Water News

Progress has been made, but challenges remain in Iowa’s pursuit of clean water

Since 2012, the state of Iowa has invested approximately $541 million to improve water quality, an estimated $4 to $6 billion problem in the state. Meanwhile, the federal government has paid Iowa farmers more than $2.76 billion for on-farm conservation practices over the past two decades. Even with this investment, water quality in the state has much room for improvement, according to a Center for Rural Affairs report released in March.

Iowa's flood history gives rise to water quality action

Recent and continued flooding along the Missouri River and throughout Iowa has revived discussion around water quality. Iowa’s history shows that natural disasters can be unifying moments on divisive issues. Following the 2008 floods in eastern Iowa, the Legislature took an interest in preventing flood damage.

While Iowans are dealing with immediate questions from this emergency, legislators are asking what the state can do. A few organizations are offering their own suggestions, including the following three ideas.

Flowing Forward: Iowa’s role in cleaning up the Gulf

The state of Iowa has a lot of water. In fact, the state contains more than two dozen rivers, including the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. For many years, state leaders have grappled with the question of how to improve the quality of Iowa’s waterways. Meanwhile, lakes have been listed as “impaired” by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and rivers have elevated levels of nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, flowing downstream. But, the impacts of poor water quality in the state have expansive consequences which have caused issues as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

Public support to raise sales tax remains high

Nine years ago, voters approved a statewide ballot referendum to amend the Iowa Constitution to create the Natural Resource and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Support remains strong for paying for the trust fund with a sales tax increase. A recent Des Moines Register poll indicated 65 percent of Iowans support a full cent sales tax increase to pay for a combination of water quality projects and mental health services.

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