Iowa water quality affects us all

New report has good news about steps being taken to ensure clean water

The latest Iowa Nutrient Reduction Annual Progress Report has just been released. This comprehensive review of the state’s multifaceted conservation efforts to reduce undesirable chemical runoff is a prepared jointly by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Iowa State University. The latest update on this important conservation undertaking contains much good news. Substantial forward movement is being achieved.

“We are committed to robust measuring and reporting around each of the steps necessary to reach our water quality goals,” said Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture, in a statement about the report’s completion. “This report shows progress in each of the areas measured. We are encouraged by the efforts of the public and private sectors to implement conservation practices across the state, and are working to build on this success going forward.

Here are some of the highlights of the latest report:

• Combined public and private sector endeavors mobilized $512 million to fund the Nutrient Reduction Strategy in 2018.

• The Legislature has taken action to guarantee long-term funding for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. An additional $270 million to support conservation projects and wastewater treatment upgrades will be made available over the next dozen years.

• Iowa State University has funded $8.7 million for 76 research projects led by scientists at the state’s three Regents universities.

• Wastewater treatment plants across the Hawkeye State are making rapid progress in readying technological upgrades to reduce nutrient loss.

• In 2017, 760,000 acres of cover crops were planted and 1.8 million acres of land were enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program.

“The Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a very important and critical effort working to enhance water quality, and to see positive changes and results is gratifying,” said Bruce Trautman, acting director of the Iowa DNR.

This newspaper heartily agrees.

One of the best things about Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative is the approach it takes. It puts an emphasis on mobilizing private sector resources rather than simply rely on government spending.

It is a good example of the appropriate use of tax dollars to stimulate nongovernmental efforts.

The Daily Freeman-Journal welcomes the excellent news documented in the latest annual report. The ongoing success of the Iowa Water Quality Initiative is encouraging. We have supported this vital undertaking since its inception. It deserves strong backing from all Iowans.