Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB3471
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Full Text of SB3471  102nd General Assembly


Sen. Ram Villivalam

Filed: 2/7/2022





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2    AMENDMENT NO. ______. Amend Senate Bill 3471 by replacing
3everything after the enacting clause with the following:
4    "Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction Act.
6    Section 5. Findings. The State recognizes that the
7Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy (NLRS) declares the
8scale and pace of adoption of conservation and nutrient
9management practices needs to accelerate in order to reduce
10nutrient losses, improve and protect soil health, and achieve
11water quality goals. The increases in precipitation and stream
12flows indicated in the most recent biennial report of the
13NLRS, "2021 Biennial Report", show the increasing challenge
14that climate change presents in meeting nutrient loss
15reduction targets. Poor soil infiltration rates and increased
16intensity and duration of precipitation is having negative



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1impacts on erosion, flooding, stormwater, soil health, and
2water security for residents throughout the State. These
3factors threaten the resilience of Illinois communities, the
4economy, and the environment. Therefore, the State of Illinois
5must adopt processes and procedures to enhance and guide the
6implementation of the NLRS to respond to emerging challenges
7and protect the natural resources of the State.
8    Section 10. Declaration of policy. The General Assembly
9finds and declares that:
10        (1) The agricultural industry represents one of
11    Illinois the largest economic sectors, and the soil and
12    water resources of the State constitute one of Illinois'
13    basic and essential assets that contribute to the economic
14    health and well-being of the State and its residents;
15        (2) The preservation of soil and water resources
16    requires planning and programs to ensure:
17            (A) the sustainable management and productivity of
18        soil and water resources;
19            (B) the resilience of our soil and water resources
20        from the effects of climate change and extreme weather
21        events;
22            (C) equity in access to farming and food
23        production.
24        (3) Sustainable agriculture is critical to:
25            (A) the success of rural communities;



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1            (B) the cultural diversity of the State;
2            (C) maintaining healthy farmland for future
3        generations of Illinois farmers;
4            (D) improving water quality;
5            (E) safeguarding biological diversity, especially
6        key species like pollinators;
7            (F) maintaining high-quality recreation
8        opportunities; and
9            (G) helping to sustain the State economy.
10        (4) It is essential to reduce the amount of nutrients
11    flowing into our watersheds by implementing strategies and
12    policies that:
13            (A) promote efficient use of nutrients and
14        sequester nitrogen and phosphorus within our soil to
15        improve environmental health within Illinois,
16        surrounding states, and the Gulf of Mexico;
17            (B) protect and improve soil health and water
18        quality for future generations;
19            (C) protect groundwater used as drinking water,
20        especially for rural residents dependent on well
21        water;
22            (D) ensure Illinois' waterways make progress
23        toward being swimmable, fishable and drinkable;
24            (E) ensure that municipalities are well-equipped
25        to implement nutrient management practices as it
26        relates to wastewater treatment, stormwater management



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1        and drainage;
2            (F) promote partnerships and collaboration among
3        stakeholders; and
4            (G) use all available funding, whether it be from
5        public or private resources, to assist in achieving
6        the goals within this Act.
7    Section 15. Definitions. As used in this Act:
8    "Department" means the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
9    "Districts" mean soil and water conservation districts.
10    "Healthy soils practices" means systems of agricultural,
11forestry and land management practices that:
12        (1) improve the health of soils, including, but not
13    limited to, consideration of depth of topsoil horizons,
14    water infiltration rate, water-holding capacity, organic
15    matter content, biologically accessible nutrient content,
16    bulk density, biological activity, and biological and
17    microbiological diversity;
18        (2) follow the principles of: minimizing soil
19    disturbance and external inputs; keeping soil covered;
20    maximizing biodiversity; diversifying crop rotations;
21    maximizing presence of living roots; integrating animals
22    into land management, including grazing animals, birds,
23    beneficial insects, or keystone species, such as
24    earthworms; and incorporating the context of local
25    conditions in decision-making, including, for example,



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1    soil type, topography, and time of year; and
2        (3) include such practices as conservation tillage or
3    no-till, cover-cropping, perennialization of highly
4    erodible land, precision nitrogen and phosphorus
5    application, managed grazing, integrated crop-livestock
6    systems, silvopasture, agroforestry, perennial crops,
7    integrated pest management, nutrient best management
8    practices, and those practices recommended by the United
9    States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources
10    Conservation Service Field Office Technical Guide.
11    "Initiative" means the Illinois Healthy Soils and
12Watersheds Initiative.
13    "Soil health" means the continuing capacity of a soil to
14function as a vital, living biological system that sustains
15plants, animals, and humans, increases soil organic matter,
16improves soil structure and water-and nutrient-holding
17capacity and nutrient cycling, enhances water infiltration and
18filtration capability, promotes water quality, and results in
19net long-term ecological benefits; healthy soils host a
20diversity of beneficial organisms, grow vigorous crops,
21enhance agricultural resilience, including the ability of
22crops and livestock to tolerate and recover from drought,
23temperature extremes, extreme precipitation events, pests,
24diseases, and other stresses, break down harmful chemicals,
25and help convert organic residues into stable soil organic
26matter and retaining nutrients, especially nitrogen and



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2    "Soil health assessment" means a suite of
3soil-health-indicator measures, including, but not limited to:
4soil organic matter, soil structure, infiltration and bulk
5density, water-holding capacity, microbial biomass, and soil
7    "Watershed health" means the continued capacity of a
8surface and groundwater ecosystem to function as a vital
9living ecosystem that is resilient to drought and storm events
10and that sustains humans, plants, and animals; healthy
11watersheds provide public and private benefits, including, but
12not limited to, improved water cycle, water quality, drinking
13water security, recreation and tourism, stormwater management,
14flood mitigation, habitat resilience, and crop risk.
15    Section 20. Illinois Healthy Soils and Watersheds
16Initiative. The Illinois Healthy Soils and Watersheds
17Initiative is created. It is the purpose of the Initiative to
18improve the health of soils and the function of watersheds
19through efforts that support the implementation of the NLRS,
20reduce nutrient loss, improve soil and water quality, protect
21drinking water, increase the resilience of ecosystems to
22extreme weather events, protect and improve agricultural
23productivity, and support aquatic and wildlife habitat.
24    The Illinois Healthy Soils and Watersheds Initiative shall
25be administered by the Director of Agriculture with



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1consultation from the soil and water conservation districts,
2the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the
3University of Illinois Extension Program. The Department shall
4create guidelines and guidance to assist the soil and water
5conservation districts in developing goals and needs
6assessments in order to identify desired capacity and funding
7levels and establish regular, measurable, cost-effective and
8technically achievable goals to advance strategies that
9improve healthy soils and watersheds and reduce nutrient loss.
10These assessments shall be used to identify opportunities to
11access and leverage financial and technical assistance from
12local, State, federal, and private sources and to guide
13resources to their best potential use.
14    The Initiative shall complement and improve coordination
15of existing resources and processes, such as those underway
16through the NLRS, the erosion and sediment control program,
17those described by Section 6z-32 of the State Finance Act, and
18shall not replace existing, local, State, private, or federal
19funding or technical assistance programs.
20    The Department shall report on progress of the Initiative
21as a component of biennial reporting for the Illinois Nutrient
22Loss Reduction Strategy described in this Act.
23    The Initiative shall promote voluntary and incentive-based
24conservation efforts. No part of this Act shall be used to
25impose mandates or require practice adoption.



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1    Section 25. Guidelines for goals and needs assessment. The
2Department shall adopt and revise guidelines to assist soil
3and water conservation districts in determining local goals
4and needs for implementing soil health and watershed
5conservation projects consistent with the Nutrient Loss
6Reduction Strategy.
7    Before adopting or revising any guidelines, the Department
8shall hold a minimum of 2 public hearings with respect
9thereto. At least 30 days' notice of the hearings shall be
10given by the Department in such a manner as the Department
11considers best suited to obtain input from soil and water
12conservation districts and all other persons interested in the
13proposed guidelines or revisions. Like notice shall be given
14by the Department to any person who has filed a request to be
15provided notice of such hearings. Copies of the proposed
16guidelines or revisions shall be made available to all those
17receiving notice of the hearing and to any other person, upon
19    In developing its guidelines to assist soil and water
20conservation districts in determining local goals and needs
21for project implementation to accomplish the goals of the
22Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, the Department shall
24        (1) the relevant physical and geological features of
25    individual watersheds and drainage basins of the State,
26    including, but not limited to, data relating to land use



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1    and land use activities, soil type, hydrology, geology,
2    waterbody characteristics, stream buffers, and built
3    infrastructure;
4        (2) estimates of each district's nutrient loss based
5    on the nitrogen and phosphorus HUC8 watershed loads
6    described in the NLRS science assessment. When a district
7    is in more than one watershed, their nutrient contribution
8    can be calculated using a weighted average based on how
9    much of their county is in each watershed;
10        (3) watershed-scale information about current and
11    future climate projections and expected impacts from
12    climate change in regard to streamflow, soil health, and
13    other factors that would exasperate nutrient loss as well
14    as increase additional risks related to flooding, water
15    quality impairments and other impacts to ecosystem
16    function and biological diversity;
17        (4) previously established goals and deadlines within
18    local watershed-based plans, total maximum daily load
19    allocation plans, water quality implementation plans,
20    stormwater plans, soil health plans, or nutrient
21    assessment and reduction plans;
22        (5) county and State levels of conservation practice
23    adoption, consistent with the NLRS-approved practices list
24    determined by the NLRS science committee. Guidance should
25    also be provided to districts to meet USDA Natural
26    Resource Conservation Service determined conservation



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1    practice standards;
2        (6) information regarding beginning, socially
3    disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers, as well
4    as disadvantaged communities;
5        (7) surveys of lands and waters, land ownership, and
6    public lands as the Department considers appropriate; and
7        (8) availability of State, federal, and private
8    financial and technical assistance programs to soil and
9    water conservation districts, local governments, and
10    conservation partners to implement NLRS projects.
11    The guidelines shall be reviewed and updated by the
12Department every 4 years, coinciding with every other biennial
13report of the NLRS and following the process regarding public
14meetings and disclosure listed in this Section.
15    The Department shall collaborate with the Illinois
16Environmental Protection Agency and may collaborate with other
17partners such as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
18and University of Illinois Extension to prepare the
20    The information collected through the development of the
21guidelines shall be summarized and provided to the soil and
22water conservation districts to inform the development of
23local goals and needs assessments. The Department shall make
24reasonable efforts to provide as much of this information as
25possible as a publicly available county-level geospatial



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1    Initial guidelines shall be completed and provided to soil
2and water conservation districts by January 31, 2023.
3    Section 30. Local goals and needs assessment. Upon the
4adoption of guidelines described in Section 25, each soil and
5water conservation district shall develop its own goals and
6needs assessment to guide implementation of the NLRS. The
7goals and needs assessment shall be technically feasible,
8economically reasonable, and consistent with the Nutrient Loss
9Reduction Strategy.
10    The Department shall provide a template to the districts
11for the local goals and needs assessment including the
12required information listed in this Section as well as
13information regarding available data and support materials
14collected as the guidance information listed in Section 25.
15    Each district is encouraged to collaborate with other
16local governmental entities and local stakeholders in
17developing and implementing its goals and needs assessment. To
18assist in developing its goals and needs assessment, each
19district shall use the guidelines provided by the Department
20and name an advisory committee. The advisory committee shall
21include representatives from a wide variety of interests, such
22as agriculture, business, local government, water utilities,
23conservation organizations, environmental organizations, and
24recreation. The advisory committee may be identified within an
25existing process, including, but not limited to, the erosion



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1and sediment control program, watershed planning group, or
2land use council.
3    Upon the request of a district, the Department shall
4assist in the preparation of the district's goals and needs
5assessment. Districts may also work collaboratively to
6establish joint plans to leverage existing capacity and
7resources most effectively.
8    To carry out its assessment, a district shall identify
9conservation activities consistent with the NLRS-approved
10practices for various types of soils and land uses. The
11assessment shall include planned activities for maximizing the
12benefit of conservation activities to reduce nutrient losses,
13promote soil and watershed health, and support the viability
14of the agricultural sector.
15    The goals and needs assessment must consider opportunities
16to access, leverage, and use State, federal, and private
17resources within a specific soil and water conservation
18district service area.
19    Soil and water conservation districts may also convene
20producer-led dialogues to identify special initiatives or
21pilot projects to leverage additional resources and implement
22projects at scale across multiple operations and land
23ownerships. These efforts should seek to leverage funding and
24resources from local, State, federal, and private entities.
25These efforts may be coordinated with research and pilot
26projects directed by the Nutrient Research and Education



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2    In developing a goals and needs assessment, the soil and
3water conservation district shall:
4        (1) evaluate existing assets such as current
5    practices, current cropping systems, crop processing and
6    market infrastructure, riparian buffers, wetlands, public
7    lands, funding, education, research and peer-to-peer
8    training opportunities, and existing partnerships;
9        (2) consider the eligible funding categories available
10    through the Partners for Conservation Fund and their
11    ability to advance the healthy soils practices consistent
12    with soil health principles and the NLRS-approved
13    practices list within a soil and water conservation
14    district service area;
15        (3) determine vulnerabilities such as runoff risk,
16    riparian function, stormwater, floodplains and stream
17    impairments, and observed and predicted impacts from
18    climate change, especially to socially disadvantaged
19    farmers, ranchers, and communities;
20        (4) consult existing plans and priorities established
21    by municipal and local governments, wastewater treatment
22    facilities and private sector partners;
23        (5) identify opportunities to conduct outreach to
24    agricultural producers and landowners and to develop
25    individual soil health plans as well as other
26    beneficiaries of nutrient loss reduction efforts;



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1        (6) establish goals for achieving measurable outcomes
2    for nutrient loss reduction, soil and watershed health and
3    farmer viability. This includes identifying opportunities
4    to support beginning, socially disadvantaged and veteran
5    farmers as well as small and mid-scale farmers;
6        (7) estimate 2-year funding levels needed from State,
7    federal and private sources in order to achieve goals; and
8        (8) identify opportunities to develop partnerships and
9    leverage resources from local governments and utilities,
10    State and federal agencies and private entities.
11    The goals and needs assessment shall be updated every 2
12years to coincide with each biennial report of the NLRS.
13Before adopting or revising the goals and needs assessment,
14the district shall, after giving due notice, conduct at least
15one public hearing on the proposed changes.
16    The goals and needs assessment shall be made available for
17public inspection at the principal office of the district and
18shall be provided to any person upon request.
19    The goals and needs assessment shall be drafted and
20submitted alongside the district's long-term range plan and be
21used to guide its annual plan of work submitted to the
22Department. The Department shall identify shared goals and
23priorities between districts and shall assist in developing
24partnerships and shared funding approaches to maximize
25capacity and resources. This may include, but is not limited
26to, supporting the development of applications to the USDA's



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1Regional Conservation Partnership Program and Conservation
2Innovation Grant Programs.
3    Upon its adoption, the district shall submit its goals and
4needs assessment to the Department for review and approval. If
5a district fails to complete a goals and needs assessment and
6to submit it to the Department by the time specified in this
7Section, the Department shall, after such hearings or
8consultations with the various local interests in the district
9as it considers appropriate, develop an appropriate goals and
10needs assessment to be carried out by the district. In
11assessing the goals and needs assessments, the Department
12shall consider whether, taken together, the implementation of
13the assessments by each district is sufficient to make
14progress toward the interim and long-term nutrient loss
15reduction goals included in the NLRS.
16    Initial goals and needs assessments shall be submitted to
17the Department by November 1, 2023.
18    Section 35. Compliance and standards; cost sharing. To be
19eligible to receive State cost-share support after January 1,
202024, soil and water conservation districts shall have an
21updated goals and needs assessment.
22    The Department shall update its rules and procedures for
23cost-share funding to be inclusive of all relevant
24NLRS-approved practices promoting the rapid adoption of
25cost-effective and technically feasible projects. Updates to



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1the rules and procedures shall also address barriers to access
2experienced by beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran
4    The Department may require results-based practices,
5consistent with the NLRS-approved practice list, or the
6assessment of the environmental outcomes of projects, at the
7field or county level, as a condition of funding.
8    Section 40. Availability of appropriated funds. The
9requirements and deadlines for local goals and needs
10assessments are contingent on the availability of appropriated
11funds. The Director of Agriculture, in consultation with the
12soil and water conservation districts, may make adjustments to
13the deadlines or the requirements of the goals and needs
14assessments, on a case-by-case basis for individual districts,
15if those factors are found to be unnecessary or unreasonable
16given available funding resources and capacity constraints.
17    A report of these funding and capacity constraints must be
18provided to the General Assembly and the NLRS Policy Working
19Group for review by January 1st of the following year.
20    Section 45. State water quality program guidance. The
21Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shall update water
22quality program guidance for the nonpoint source management
23program by June 30, 2023. This update shall include, but is not
24limited to, incorporating the findings of the NLRS into



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1program guidance and evaluation of adaptive management
2opportunities in response to risk to the State's water
3resources presented by climate change and shall consider
4strategies that address barriers to access to funding and
5technical assistance programs by socially disadvantaged
7    Updates to the nonpoint source management program shall
8also consider opportunities to develop a sponsorship lending
9program within the water revolving fund to promote
10collaboration within priority watersheds and promote
11coordination between traditional gray and green infrastructure
12improvements such as land acquisition and ecosystem
13restoration, especially in regard to directing resources to
14socially disadvantaged communities.
15    Section 50. NLRS alignment for State-owned and
16State-leased agricultural lands. State agencies, including,
17but not limited to, the Department of Natural Resources,
18Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, and
19Illinois State Universities, shall evaluate existing soil
20health practices on agricultural lands that are owned and
21managed by the State, or leased to a third party, and update
22management plans, contracts, or other resources to support the
23rapid adoption of cost-effective and technically feasible
24practices identified within the NLRS-approved practice list.



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1    Section 55. Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy
2Report. Every 2 years, beginning in 2023, the Department of
3Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Natural
4Resources, the University of Illinois Extension Program, and
5the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, shall produce a
6Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy Report that shall inform the
7agencies and lawmakers of the current state of nutrient loss
8within Illinois, progress toward achieving nutrient loss
9reduction targets as outlined in the NLRS, and make
10recommendations for accelerating the implementation of
11practices that would reduce overall nutrient loads into the
12waters of this State. The report shall include, but is not
13limited to, the following information:
14        (1) An executive summary outlining the findings and
15    recommendations of the report.
16        (2) A scientific assessment of the total nutrient
17    loads for phosphorus and nitrogen and load reduction
18    scenarios for both point sources and nonpoint sources.
19        (3) An assessment of the impacts and risks from
20    climate change and extreme weather for advancing the goals
21    of the strategy as well as opportunities for adaptive
22    management.
23        (4) Identification of priority watersheds and
24    potential impacts from nutrient loss to disadvantaged
25    communities, including impacts to drinking water systems
26    and costs to community services.



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1        (5) A list of approved practices for reducing nutrient
2    loss such as natural infrastructure projects such as
3    wetland restoration, riparian buffer zones, and
4    reforestation.
5        (6) A summary of guidelines for determining local
6    goals and needs for advancing NLRS priorities.
7        (7) A summary of local goals and needs provided by the
8    soil and water conservation districts.
9        (8) A summary of activities by local governments,
10    utilities, and waste management facilities to implement
11    nutrient management practices as it relates to wastewater
12    treatment, stormwater management, and drainage.
13        (9) Opportunities to improve collaboration among
14    State, federal, and private stakeholders.
15        (10) Policy and funding recommendations to advance
16    goals and priorities sufficient to achieve the interim
17    goal of reducing loads of nitrate-nitrogen by 15% and
18    total phosphorus by 25% by 2025 and the long-term goal of
19    reducing loads from Illinois for total phosphorus and
20    total nitrogen each by 45%.
21    Section 60. Report delivery. The Department of Agriculture
22shall submit copies of completed reports to the Governor, the
23President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. In
24addition, copies shall be submitted to the House Agriculture &
25Conservation Committee, the House Energy & Environment



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1Committee, the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the Senate
2Environment and Conservation Committee.
3    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
4becoming law.".