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Iowa relies on its water as a source for drinking, fishing and recreating. Each year, 30 million visits are made to Iowa’s lakes and rivers, bringing nearly $2 billion of spending to our state. Yet, the Iowa DNR has identified over 600 impaired waterbodies in Iowa that are polluted by soil, or by nitrate and phosphorous run-off from nonpoint sources, such as agriculture, that are not regulated by the Clean Water Act.
Improving water quality in Iowa means reducing sediment flow into rivers and streams, cleaning up impaired waterbodies and taking steps to protect our watersheds into the future. This includes funding for natural solutions to water quality, including wetland restoration, river buffers and floodplain management.
In 2018, the Iowa legislature passed a water quality bill known as Senate File 512 (SF512), officially making the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) the key legal mechanism for reducing pollution in Iowa’s waters. The NRS will cost an average of $1 billion annually, while SF512 only allocates $282 million total to water quality projects over the next 11 years (concluding in June 2029). Funding for conservation agriculture will increase over time, but peaks at only $15 million annually.
A watershed-based approach helps us strategically implement and manage conservation that improves water quality and manages excess water.
INHF recommends that the Iowa Flood Center and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy receive increased funding to continue their work to improve water quality and mitigate flood damage.