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Governments Role in Water Quality Issues and Concerns for Agriculture in Illinois Don Pitts Agricultural Engineer Water Quality Specialist Champaign, IL.

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Presentation on theme: "Governments Role in Water Quality Issues and Concerns for Agriculture in Illinois Don Pitts Agricultural Engineer Water Quality Specialist Champaign, IL."— Presentation transcript:

1 Governments Role in Water Quality Issues and Concerns for Agriculture in Illinois Don Pitts Agricultural Engineer Water Quality Specialist Champaign, IL NRCS USDA

2 Historical Perspective on Water Quality and the Role of Government In the 19th century clean and safe drinking water was not a given Many communities were established along rivers and streams - for a source of drinking water, power, transportation, etc Cities also dumped sewage and waste into these rivers and streams People died of cholera and thyphoid

3 Federal Water Quality Policy Nation LawClean Water Act Safe Drinking Water Act USDA PolicyRegulation Regulation NRCS PolicyGM 450 & 460, Parts 401

4 Federal Law and Water Quality Rivers and Harbors Act –limited the dumping of waste Drinking Water Standards –drinking water standards adopted (limited to coliform bacteria) Revised Drinking Water Standards –strength to standard on coliform bacteria

5 Federal Law and Water Quality (cont) Federal Pollution Control Act –provide joint federal and state control (provided funding for local sewage treatment plants) Water Quality Act –created water quality standards (limited to interstate waters) Clean Water Act Safe Drinking Water Act

6 Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Amended in 1972 and is known as the Clean Water Act) Objective was to restore and maintain the integrity of the Nations waters Authorizes States to establish water quality standards Established the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

7 Federal Water Pollution Control (Clean Water Act ) …restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nations waters…...protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provide for recreation in and on the water – known as fishable/swimmable

8 Federal Safe Drinking Water Act 1974 Set enforceable maximum contaminate levels (MCLs) Required monitoring and reporting of drinking water MCL for nitrate is 10 mg/l

9 Primary Agricultural Water Quality Contaminants Nutrients –N (nitrate) –P Sediments Pesticides and Heavy Metals Pathogens Salts

10 Nutrients of Concern in Illinois Nitrogen Associated Problems –Drinking water standard –Cultural eutrophication (estuaries) Phosphorus Associated Problems –Cultural eutrophication (lakes and reservoirs)

11 Nitrate-Nitrogen Concerns Local –drinking water supplies cannot exceed (10 mg/l) Regional –stream and reservoirs with elevated nitrate levels are contributing to eutrophication problems National –Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia

12 Human Health Problems Associated with Elevated Nitrate Levels in Drinking Water Blue Baby Syndrome Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

13 Locations of elevated nitrate levels in surface water and the distribution of tile-drained soils in Illinois

14 Hydrologic Cycle (with tiles)

15 N - Conclusions Nutrient management: –an important practice to mitigate elevate nitrate levels in ground and surface waters. Drainage management: – can be an effective tool to lower nitrate levels in surface waters.

16 Phosphorus (P) Is an essential element for plant growth Fertilizer P inputs have been long recognized as necessary for profitable crop production Phosphorus in surface water can also increase biological productivity and cause eutrophication.

17 Eutrophication: Is the loading of dissolved and particulate matter to a water body at rates sufficient to produce high biological production Has been identified as the main cause of impaired surface water in the U.S.

18 P Levels & Trophic State (source: EPA, 1990) Oligotrophic (nutrient-poor) –P< mg/l Mesotrophic (biologically productive) –P = mg/l Eutrophic (nutrient rich) –P = mg/l Hypereutrophic (pea-soup) –P > mg/l Assuming P is limiting

19 Phosphorus (TP) Concentrations in Surface Water in Illinois (Source: IEPA)

20 P - Conclusions Increased soil-P levels lead to increased P loading to surface water Management of soil-P levels to avoid unnecessary buildup of soil P levels should be an essential part of a program to reduce P loadings to surface water Bray-1 soil test P of 75 lbs/ac is high!


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