Water quality is an issue that affects everyone, regardless of where you live. It continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture. Specifically, concerns that excess nutrients and sediment are causing impairment of rivers, streams, and lakes remain priority issues. The mission of the Water Quality Strategic Research Initiative (SRI) is to identify cost-effective approaches for improving Illinois’ water quality.
Everyone wants clean water, but we all have different expectations and opinions on the best way to protect water quality. We need unbiased standards, based on the best available science, to compare water bodies and determine when water quality is impaired. We have to prioritize our efforts to do the most good with limited financial resources. These standards consider run-off and drainage from farm fields, but they also include discharges from factories and sewage treatment plants. As a result, they directly affect both farm and urban residents.
The goals of the Water Quality Strategic Research Initiative are to help develop the scientific basis for nutrient standards in the surface waters of Illinois, and to assist in the appropriate development and implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
This requires close collaboration with regulatory agencies in Illinois. As part of the SRI, an advisory team from the Illinois EPA and Illinois Department of Agriculture identified research needs, developed the request for proposals, and evaluated and selected projects. The final projects that were selected included scientists from:
Since standards need to consider all sources of nutrients, the SRI has had discussions and offers of collaboration and support from water reclamation districts in Illinois. All have a goal of protecting water from nutrient overenrichment without pursuing standards that are overly restrictive or unachievable.
George Czapar, Water Quality SRI Leader
(217) 782-6515; firstname.lastname@example.org