Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recently approved legislation to dedicate just $4 million this year – and $282 million over 12 years – to improve practices on farms and to help cities and towns reduce nutrient pollution in Iowa streams. Conservation groups, including the League, opposed the bill because it includes no requirements for monitoring water quality in streams, no goals, no timeline, and no public reporting of results. IWLA Agriculture Outreach Coordinator Tim Wagner encouraged Iowa businesses to sign on to a joint letter to Governor Reynolds opposing the bill. Opponents called it a “trickle in the bucket” of what is actually needed to meet Iowa’s goal of reducing nutrient pollution in Iowa waters by 45%.
Estimates are that needed on-farm practices and new infrastructure for wastewater treatment systems could cost $1 to $4 billion or more, and Wagner and other Ikes are working with other conservation groups to press for the funding and strategies needed.
For example, the League and other conservation advocates are pushing extra hard this year to convince the Iowa Legislature to finally authorize funding for the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, a measure approved by a statewide citizens’ ballot in 2010 that would dedicate the first 3/8 cent of any sales tax increase for natural resources. In spite of overwhelming support for the measure then and now (nearly 70% by polling in Dec 2017), the Legislature has consistently refused to approve the increase. The Fund would provide an estimated $185 million annually, with a very specific formula for funds dispersal, with the majority of it going towards conservation and water quality projects. Advocates are cautiously optimistic in 2018, as Governor Reynolds has indicated that she would like to see more action on water quality.