Policy Update

Nutrient Pollution and Soil Health



NCEL Point of Contact

Chris Askew-Merwin
Sustainable Agriculture and Water Specialist


Across the U.S., states are trying to find ways to protect their waterways from nutrient runoff. One of the greatest tools for reducing nutrient pollution is through enhancing soil health. Healthy soils hold more nutrients and filter water in order to reduce excess nutrient runoff. Soil health provides considerable value to human life and people rely on it to:

Learn More: Nutrient Pollution and Human Health

Washington Passes Landmark Bill

On April 2, 2020, Washington’s Soil Health Initiative (SB 6306) was signed by the Governor, offering states a robust example of ways to improve and protect soil health. This bill promotes collaborative soil health research and education through the creation of a partnership between Washington State University and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to assess current soil health, research soil test sites, and develop practices that improve soil fertility. It also works to ensure that soil health practices can be implemented economically by farmers and ranchers across the state. 

Other 2020 Legislation

Several other states introduced legislation this year to tackle soil health improvement. Kentucky HB 591 establishes a healthy soils program and fund and requires the Department of Natural Resources to assist with soil health assessments and plans. Similarly, Iowa HF 2346 creates an initiative to improve soil and watershed health. View 2020 Legislation

Learn More

Check out this State Healthy Soil Policy Map to learn more about current policy activities in other states and take a look at NCEL’s nutrient pollution blog to learn more about the impact of excess nutrients in soils and waterways on human health.