News Feature | February 5, 2014

Iowa Nutrient Plan On The Chopping Block?

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

iowareg

Iowa lawmakers had positive remarks about the state's water quality strategy at a hearing last week, but ongoing funding for the program may not be certain.

The officials offered "high praise" for the plan "even as they acknowledged it lacks some measurable goals," the Gazette reported.

The state's strategy for nutrients was rolled out in November 2012, and a Water Quality Initiative was added in 2013 "in response to federal EPA concerns over water quality in the state," the Gazette said. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy aims to "reduce nutrients that find their way into Iowa waters and finally the Gulf of Mexico," Iowa Farmer Today explained.

“It’s a good start, and it looks like it’s going to be very successful,” Republican Rep. Pat Grassley said at the hearing, according to the Gazette

Lawmakers have been tasked with considering whether to continue funding the strategy and to what extent. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has been working "to convince state lawmakers they should provide nearly $9 million to continue work on the [strategy]," the Des Moines Register reported.

Northey argues that the state strategy has considerable benefits for the state.

One example, per the Register: "Eight watershed projects received $4.1 million in state funding and pulled in $8 million in matching investment. The watershed projects encompass 605,774 acres and will test the effectiveness of buffer strips, no-till farming, cover crops and other conservation practices. More than 30 groups, including state and federal conservation agencies and state universities, are partnering on the projects."

The EPA submitted comments about the strategy while it was still in the making, offering various suggestions.

For instance, the EPA said that "the strategy could be even more effective if it examined how proven conservation systems could be targeted for use on the most vulnerable lands."

For more on government oversight, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Iowa," © 2011 Dougtone, used under a Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

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