Iowa’s Water Quality Still At Risk

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The Iowa Nutrient Management Strategy to address runoff pollution was developed behind the scenes with no input from Iowa DNR, conservation or river groups.  It has been reported that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship prepared the portion of the report to address agricultural runoff and strongly resembles Iowa Farm Bureau statements and positions.   The Iowa Department of Natural Resources prepared the sewage-treatment proposals.

Nearly a century has now passed since government institutions have been involved with voluntary conservation efforts and little progress has been made in protecting and restoring clean water to our rivers.  We must demand a strategy that includes accountability.

We now have only 45 days to understand a complex document that has no provision for accountability and relies solely on voluntary efforts for the agricultural runoff.  We believe the public comment period needs to be extended.

Please consider attending the DNR/IDALS hosted workshops and offering your comments to help demand real change.

→ Denison:  Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m., Boulders Conference Center, 2507 Boulders Dr., Denison
Ames:  Dec. 19, 10 a.m., South Ballroom, Memorial Union, Iowa State University, Ames
Waterloo:  Dec. 21, 10 a.m., Ramada Waterloo/Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, 205 W Fourth St., Waterloo

Your comments are very important to ensuring this strategy can reduce point and non-point pollution in our rivers for decades to come. It is important for as many people as possible to respond to Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy within the 45 day public commenting period – ending January, 4, 2013.  The comment period falls during the holiday season which can distract interest resulting in a small number of responses.  

Comments can be directed to:

→ By mail:  Nutrient Reduction Strategy, ANR Program Services, 2101 Agronomy Hall, Ames, Iowa 50011-1010
→ Online:  http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/comments

Related links:

→ Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy:  http://www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/
→ Des Moines Register report: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20121116/NEWS/311160051/Register-Exclusive-Farm-Bureau-text-in-state-report?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Frontpage
→ Iowa Environmental Council: http://www.iaenvironment.org/
→ Bleeding Heartland:  http://www.bleedingheartland.com/diary/5875/new-water-quality-policy-stacked-against-public-input-for-big-ag

Lake Delhi Update

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During the 2012 Iowa Legislative session, Iowa Rivers Revival opposed the funding because the Lake is highly prone to erosion and sedimentation; it would require costly dredging in the future to maintain depth; it suffers from serous wastewater and water quailty problems; it lacks public access; and there are no real plans for fish passage.

IRR was unable to stop the appropriation for rebuilding the dam. However, we were successful in raising issues to the Governor and Iowa legislators about the problems associated with the rebuild effort, which resulted in lawmakers imposing restrictions on the funding. The Legislature required Lake Delhi interests to provide a plan to increase public access areas, such as boat ramps and beaches, and a plant to improve wastewater treatment systems to reduce pollution and increase water quality.  The Delhi plans were required by Dec 31, before funds could be dispersed.

The Lake Delhi District did submit a plan to the Legislature, but it was inadequate, incomplete and vague in response to the Legislature’s concerns and conditions for funding.  The response did not thoroughly address plans to increase public access, barely addressed wastewater treatment systems for homeowners  to reduce pollution and improve water quality at the lake, had no serious plans to allow for fish passage around the dam.

The Iowa DNR, Director Chuck Gipp responded to the Lake Delhi District with a letter that outlined common-sense steps to ensure that any State funds “are spent in a manner that protects the interests of all Iowa taxpayers and that [the DNR’s] $5 million is a sound investment.”  Director Gipp’s letter said the plans presented to the DNR to increase public access and address wastewater treatment systems for homeowners are simply “not adequate.”

IRR commends the DNR for the State’s measured, thoughtful response.  We continue to urge the State to insist that these requirements are met as outlined by Iowa law, prior to state funds are issued for the project. Voice your support to the Governor and your legislators to ensure these common-sense requirements are met.

Polk County Passes Water and Land Legacy Bond

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On November 6, Polk County voters overwhelming supported the Water and Land Legacy Bond with 72% support for this ballot measure. This is a huge victory for outdoor conservation and recreational interests in Polk County. This success continues to reinforce the bi-partisan and strong support for investing in Iowa’s natural resources. In 2010 voters across the state supported the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy measure by over 63% to establish the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund constitutional amendment, and yet Iowa lawmakers have not responded with efforts to fund the Trust Fund. Investing in Iowa’s outdoors improves Iowa’s economy and preserves our natural heritage for future generations.

The Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond will be administered by the Polk County Conservation Board and will allocate $50 million over a 20 year timeline for projects that improve lakes, rivers and streams ($10M), land and habitat protection ($18M), parks ($15M), and trails ($7M).

[typography font=”Droid Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]Over the next 20 years, Polk County residents will benefit from projects that will:[/typography] [unordered_list style=”tick”]
  • Preserve clean drinking water for our children and grandchildren.
  • Improve water quality in our lakes, ponds, and streams.
  • Increase and enhance wildlife and habitat, and opportunities to view and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Connect communities by means of trails and greenways.
  • Revitalize parks and amenities.
  • Expand outdoor recreation and education opportunities for all ages and abilities.
[/unordered_list]

 

IRR Legislative Priorities

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Iowa Rivers Revival is committed to being a voice for Iowa’s rivers.  We seek to advance river issues and priorities with Iowa policy makers, river supporters, and the general public.  IRR has hired a lobbyist and plays a strong role in advocating for clean water, public funding to develop water trails and dam removal, and river restoration efforts in the Iowa.

[typography font=”Droid Sans” size=”16″ size_format=”px”]We will continue IRR’s river advocacy and leadership at the Iowa Statehouse in 2013 by pursuing the following legislative priorities:[/typography] [unordered_list style=”tick”]
  • Sustain the current $1 million appropriation for River Restoration and Dam Mitigation, and if possible increase that funding to $2 million to address the backlog of projects that could help make our rivers safer and more accessible.
  • Continue to inform supporters about Lake Delhi activities – especially the use of public funds.
  • Monitor legislation that could affect the quality and condition of Iowa’s rivers.
  • Ensure unfettered river and stream access across the state.
  • Promote fully funding REAP, and support Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy Trust Fund.
[/unordered_list]
Sign up for our legislative newsletter to stay informed about key legislation and issues.  IRR sends a legislative update each week during session, and periodic Action Alerts to our supporters on important river issues. We need Iowans all across the state communicating with their local policy leaders (city, county, and state) about the importance of investing in Iowa’s rivers.

Save the Date – IRR Legislative Reception, Feb 4, 2013, 5-7 p.m.

The Legislative Reception is scheduled for February 4th, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Noodle Zoo Café in Des Moines at E 6th and Locust.  The reception is free and open to river supporters.  Please encourage your legislators to attend so you can help share and show the broad range of support for river issues across the state.

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