Programs & Initiatives

Nutrient Loss

The Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy is a blueprint for improving water quality at home and all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico by reducing nitrogen and phosphorus losses from farm fields, city streets, and wastewater treatment plants. Released in 2015, the strategy outlines a suite of voluntary and mandatory practices that are expected to ultimately cut nutrient loading to rivers and streams by 45 percent.

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Unwanted Medicines

Unwanted medicine and personal care products can impact water quality—the water that we drink, bathe in, and use for recreation. Most of us do not use all of the medication and personal care products that we buy, and many of these chemicals are not regulated for safety, long-term health impacts, or environmental damage. Using the sink, toilet, or trash for disposal can put people, animals, and the environment at risk. So that raises the question—how do we safely use and dispose of these products?

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Natural Lawn Care

Maintaining a healthy lawn can be an important aspect of homeownership, but sometimes conventional lawn care practices negatively impact our water resources. For example, fertilizers and pesticides that are used to grow thick green grass can run off your lawn into nearby stormwater drains and pollute local waterways. The solution is to create an attractive and environmentally-friendly landscape using natural lawn care principles promoted by IISG’s Lawn to Lake program. This program reduces polluted runoff in our waterbodies and enhances a lawn’s natural ability to thrive.

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Contaminants of Emerging Concern

Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), also known as emerging contaminants, are substances found at low levels in the environment, but impacts on humans and aquatic life are unknown. These may be new chemicals or materials just recently found in the environment, due to improvements in detection techniques. Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine disrupting chemicals (i.e., BPA, flame retardants) are the most well-known CECs. Research on CECs is key to ensuring healthy water resources—to determine ecosystem and human health effects, detectable and safe limits, and prevention and remediation techniques.

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Microplastics & Marine Debris

Have you ever walked along the beach on Lake Michigan or the shores of a river and seen trash at your feet? You might be surprised to learn that the problem of plastic pollution goes deeper than what you’re seeing. The ecosystem impacts from microplastics and marine debris are a growing area of research, but we already know that microplastics and marine debris are a threat to our waterways. Scientists estimate that millions of tons of plastic are entering our lakes, rivers, and oceans every year, and much of this plastic pollution is preventable.

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Contact Info

Topic Specialist

Sarah Zack
Pollution Prevention Specialist

Research Projects

Carolyn Foley
Research Coordinator


Ethan Chitty
Administrative Assistant

Education & Training

Terri Hallesy
Education Coordinator