Water Quality and Nutrients Management Unites Industry, Regulators and the Agriculture Community

In a multi-part release over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting a series of updates exploring key themes and recent outcomes from the Louisiana Water Synergy Project. While these themes are Louisiana-specific, all of them can be applicable to most watersheds in the US. During the July 30th Louisiana Water Synergy Project meeting, guests from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), and the Louisiana State University AgCenter joined project participants to discuss nutrients management and water quality in watersheds across the state of Louisiana.

LDEQ, the Coastal Protection & Restoration Authority (CPRA), LDAF, and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (LDNR) are working on a comprehensive Louisiana nutrient management plan with the goal of managing nutrient levels in inland and coastal water bodies.

AgricultureThe nutrient management plan will be released by the end of 2013, and includes water quality monitoring, point source wetland assimilation, coastal river diversions, and best management practices. LDEQ is seeking to incentivize non-point sources – like municipalities and agricultural operations – to adopt best management practices. They also encourage industry in LA to openly communicate what they’re already doing to manage nutrients in an effort to foster a positive relationship between point and non-point sources.

Farmers and ranchers face significant challenges to produce more and impact less in this era of rapidly increasing global population. While interested in using best management practices, producers look to their consumers for help getting there. An example of such collaboration is Kellogg’s Rice Master Grower program, a joint effort between the Kellogg Company, the Louisiana Rice Mill, and the Louisiana State University AgCenter. The program recognizes farmers based on their growing practices, giving the highest honors to those who utilize best management practices most extensively.

Discussions between regulators, industry, and the agriculture community at Water Synergy Project meetings have proven the common goal of managing nutrients and water quality unites the sectors - with all sides interested in collaboration. One pilot project currently being explored would focus on an impaired inland lake where facilities and farmers operating in the region could work together to identify needs, take action, and possibly engage in environmental markets where the costs and benefits of the project are shared among participating parties.

Collaboration between regulators, industry, and the agriculture community has the potential to comprehensively improve water quality in Southern Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, and replicating the project process in other watersheds has potential to improve water quality throughout the country. Visit our water page or contact Susan Fernandes for information.

Blog, WaterSusan Fernandes