Nutrient Management Strategy

Nutrient impacts and eutrophication are a nationwide water quality concern. Many entities; including the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force (Hypoxia Task Force (HTF), Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force (GCERTF) recognize the need to address excess nutrients within the nation’s water bodies.

Louisiana created an interagency team comprised of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR). The team developed and is implementing a statewide nutrient management strategy to combat nutrient issues impacting water bodies within the State.

The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority's (CPRA) mandate is to develop, implement and enforce a comprehensive coastal protection and restoration Master Plan. For the first time in Louisiana's history, this single state authority will integrate coastal restoration and hurricane protection by marshalling the expertise and resources of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Development and other state agencies, to speak with one clear voice for the future of Louisiana's coast.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry's (LDAF) mission is to promote, protect and advance agriculture and forestry, and soil and water resources. Their vision is to be a unified and coordinated team that effectively responds to the challenges facing the agricultural and forestry industries, and which pursues each and every opportunity that might provide a benefit to the state and its citizens.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's (LDEQ) mission is to provide service to the people of Louisiana through comprehensive environmental protection in order to promote and protect health, safety and welfare while considering sound policies regarding employment and economic development.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) mission is to preserve and enhance the nonrenewable natural resources of the state, consisting of land, water, oil, gas, and other minerals, through conservation, regulation, management and development to ensure that the state of Louisiana realizes appropriate economic benefit from its asset base. Also, LDNR exercises complex regulatory and permitting functions through the Office of Coastal Management and the Office of Conservation.

These state agencies worked cooperatively to develop a comprehensive strategy for nutrient management that takes into account nonpoint and point sources and includes agricultural management practices, wastewater treatment technologies, coastal programs and restoration activities in an effort to manage nutrient levels while meeting regulatory requirements under the Clean Water Act and while developing incentive-based approaches for participation of all stakeholders within the watershed community.

Stakeholder input was an important step to building a nutrient management strategy to improve water quality within the State. Input was sought from representatives of businesses, industries, municipalities, agriculture, academia, government, and non-government organizations and homeowners. Your contribution was essential to the success of this strategy.

About Nutrient Management

Excess Nutrients Contribute to Low Dissolved Oxygen Levels

The Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) drains approximately 41% of the contiguous United States. US Geological Survey (USGS) models show the majority of MARB nutrient loadings come from sources upstream of Louisiana (LA) and a significant portion is associated with nonpoint source (such as agricultural and urban runoff). Seasonal fluxes of increased nutrients associated with runoff impact local water bodies and are a factor in development of a summer hypoxic zone (low dissolved oxygen) in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM). Management of nitrogen and phosphorus is needed to improve the quality of local water bodies and to help reduce the size of the GOM hypoxic zone. Management must include collaborative actions for both nonpoint sources and for regulated point source dischargers.

What Are We Doing Now?

In Louisiana, the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority (CPRA), LA Dept of Agriculture & Forestry (LDAF), LA Dept of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and LA Dept of Natural Resources (LDNR) all work on aspects of nutrient management including water quality monitoring, point source wetland assimilation, coastal river diversions, and best management practices (BMPs). Current programs such as nonpoint source pollution prevention in inland and coastal waters (LDEQ and LDNR), Master Farmer certifications (LDAF), and coastal river diversions (CPRA) are effective management practices being collectively evaluated. Additionally, monitoring in association with these programs will provide valuable baseline information that will help to determine the appropriate levels of nutrients within LA water bodies and will help to identify priority areas where nutrient issues may be addressed for the most effective results.

Where Do We Want To Be?

The LA state agencies are working together to develop a comprehensive nutrient management strategy. The strategy will take into account nonpoint and point sources of nutrients into Louisiana’s water bodies. Nutrient levels will be managed through meeting regulatory requirements and through development of incentives-based approaches. Participation of all stakeholders within the watershed community will be key throughout the strategy development and implementation processes.

Louisiana's Plan: To manage nutrient levels in inland and coastal water bodies

A Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy will employ methods for pollution control and nutrient capture. Incentives, such as grants or water quality credit trading, may facilitate voluntary participation in efforts to manage nutrients through realizing opportunities for both nutrient reduction and assimilation. Through LA participation in the Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA) and in consideration of guidance of the HTF, GOMA, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Louisiana state agency team has identified Ten Strategic Components for a Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy. These components serve as the framework under which strategic actions will take place.

Download the complete Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy Fact Sheet


Numerous efforts are underway within the state of Louisiana as well as nationally that address a multitude of nutrient management activities, such as those aimed towards outreach, monitoring, or agricultural incentives. These programs may assist the development and implementation of nutrient management activities within the state of Louisiana. The following is a list of identified state and federal regulations, programs and policies important to nutrient management.

Decision Support Tools

Many decision support tools are currently available that may be utilized in evaluating and assessing nutrient loads and potential nutrient load management and reduction activities. These tools are available through state, federal, and other entities and may assist agencies and other stakeholders with nutrient management efforts. The following is a listing of identified decision support tools.

Nutrient Management Strategy Reports

Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy: Protection, Improvement, and Restoration of Water Quality in Louisiana's Water Bodies.

A stakeholder engagement and outreach phase completed in early 2013 promoted public participation for suggestions and content for inclusion in this strategy. This strategy champions approaches to nutrient management specific to the state of Louisiana, and includes various implementation methods that include riverine diversions, nonpoint and point source management, voluntary participation in incentive-based programs, leveraging opportunities, and science-based new technologies/applications to drive nutrient solutions for those impacts originating locally within Louisiana as well as mitigate nutrient impacts from the MARB that enter Louisiana waters from upstream sources. View Nutrient Management Strategy Report

Point Source Implementation Strategy for Nutrients in the Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (LPDES) Program

(May 30, 2017) In Support of the Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy, Strategic Action 9.d. Monitor nutrients in point sources. The implementation of the Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy (‘Strategy’) provides a statewide strategy for managing nutrients in Louisiana’s water bodies through coastal protection and restoration, nonpoint source management, point source management, incentives, and leveraging programs. In regard to point source management of nutrients, the LDEQ is responsible for the implementation of the Louisiana Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (LPDES) Program, as delegated by the USEPA. As authorized by the Clean Water Act (CWA) and by USEPA, the LPDES Permit Program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the state. A strategic action under the Strategy is 9.d. Monitor nutrients in point sources which can be accomplished through permitted dischargers in the LPDES Program. The LDEQ has implemented nitrogen and phosphorus monitoring in general and individual permits based on Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) determinations and in wetland assimilation projects. LDEQ also addresses nutrients through the General Permit LAG750000 for Discharges of Exterior Vehicle Wash Wastewater, which requires the use of low-phosphate, low-surfactant soaps and detergents. Nutrient monitoring and limits may be part of permits for specific facility types such as fertilizer plants or poultry operations. The LDEQ will continue nutrient monitoring for those permitted dischargers where monitoring is currently indicated as mentioned above. In addition, the LDEQ is implementing an enhanced approach for determining inclusion of nutrient monitoring in all discharges that may contain nutrients. This will allow LDEQ to gather data necessary to determine the extent of nutrient contributions from these dischargers to water bodies of Louisiana. View Implementation Strategy

Annual Reports for Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy Implementation

The Louisiana Nutrient Management Strategy (‘Strategy’) was released May 2014. The Strategy presents a framework of ten strategic components with underlying actions that guide implementation of nutrient management activities across the state. Completing these strategic actions, in addition to adapting, modifying, and/or identifying additional actions is part of the Strategy implementation process. The Strategy Interagency Team is comprised of representatives from the Louisiana state agencies of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana (CPRA), the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR). Partnerships with other agencies and groups including the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (US BCSD), Louisiana Water Synergy Group; the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) form a well-rounded team to achieve these nutrient management efforts outlined in the Strategy for Louisiana. These annual reports describe the accomplishments in implementation of the Strategy during each year. Completed and ongoing strategic actions are identified and results and progress made during a year are discussed.

2017 Annual Report, April 13, 2018

2016 Annual Report, April 28, 2017

2015 Annual Report, April 15, 2016 

2014 Annual Report, May 18, 2015

Nitrogen and Phosphorus Trends of Long-Term Ambient Water Quality Monitoring Sites in Louisiana, December 2015.  

Abstract: Trends for total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN), nitrite + nitrate (NOx), total phosphorus (TP) and concentrations were analyzed for the 21 long-term monitoring sites in the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (LDEQ) ambient water quality monitoring network from 1978 to 2014. These sites represent eleven of the twelve watershed basins in Louisiana. A Mann-Kendall trend test found the majority of trends (73%) to be decreasing. All sites had a decreasing trend for TKN, twelve sites showed a decreasing trend for NOx, and thirteen sites showed a decreasing trend for TP. Only one trend, NOx for the Bogue Chitto River, was found to be increasing. The land use for the watershed of the eleven rivers included in this analysis was calculated and then analyzed along with the median nutrient value in a Kendall tau correlation analysis. Agriculture was found to be significantly correlated with higher concentrations of TKN and TP (p<0.01), while forested lands were found to be significantly correlated with lower concentrations of TKN and TP (p<0.05). Even though agriculture was found to be associated with higher nutrient concentrations, basins with the most agriculture also showed the most improvement in nutrient management as evidenced by decreasing or no observable increasing trends in nutrients.

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