Water is a fundamental resource, and we believe rural communities will play a key role in improving water quality. By promoting stewardship and pursuing policies that improve water quality, build soil health, and protect our natural resources, we hope to ensure clean water for generations of rural Americans.

When water is polluted, our neighbors and communities are put at a disadvantage and public health is threatened. Surface water contamination limits the potential for economic opportunities and groundwater degradation requires costly treatment systems—infrastructure that is often too expensive for many rural communities.

Across rural America, farmers, ranchers, and communities all depend on clean and abundant water to sustain our way of life. Agricultural producers rely on water for productive yields and livestock, communities need water to provide basic services to their residents, and local businesses rely on rivers, lakes, and streams to attract visitors who stimulate the economy.

Important challenges remain in pursuit of clean water in rural places. Increased levels of point source and nonpoint source pollution often put our waterways at risk. Changing weather patterns lead to unpredictable precipitation, forcing many of us to adapt as flooding and droughts become more frequent.

At the Center for Rural Affairs, we aim to elevate the efforts of rural people who are taking action in support of clean water. We advocate for public policies that empower farmers to adopt conservation practices and communities to provide safe drinking water. Ultimately, we work to ensure rural Americans can take pride in the waterways we all depend on.

Iowa Watershed Resource Library

Rural Iowans should be involved in the decisions that impact their futures and we believe that the state’s most effective path to cleaner water includes a strong emphasis on a watershed approach. Click here for a resource library for watersheds across Iowa to inform, assist, and empower those who live within their boundaries.

Water Notes


Leveraging Local Funds for Watershed Improvement

As stakeholders in Iowa’s 56 hydrologic unit code 8 (HUC-8) watersheds look to improve resiliency through conservation practice adoption, education and outreach, and long-term planning, securing funds for these activities is often a challenge. This fact sheet contains a list of local strategies Watershed Management Authorities (WMA) members can leverage to attain funding.

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Watershed Planning 101

As Iowa looks to address its water quality problem, enabling success through watershed-level planning and project implementation is a crucial step. Developing a watershed management plan is an early part of the water quality improvement process that enables local buy-in and jump starts action in a watershed.

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Iowa Legislative update - Feb. 11, 2020

We are now entering the fifth full week of the 2020 legislative session. As legislators, agencies, the governor’s office, and committees have worked to introduce and review legislation, we’ve been engaging with them to make sure rural Iowans have a seat at the table. In all, we have registered for, against, or undecided on 19 bills which relate to water quality, renewable energy, economic development, and more.

As bills are introduced in the next few weeks, I will keep you informed on our lead initiatives and other key legislation we are following. For more updates and questions, or to get involved, please reply to this email or contact me at codys@cfra.org.

Analysis: Our breakdown of Iowa’s IWILL proposal

On Jan. 14, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced her plans for the Invest in Iowa Act. Under this proposal, Reynolds is requesting the Legislature raise the sales tax in the state by one penny. Coupled with several tax cuts, including a minimum 10 percent income tax cut and property tax breaks for counties, this new funding includes the necessary three-eighths of one cent needed to fund the constitutionally-created Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust, also known as Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy or IWILL.

Iowa Legislative update - Jan. 28, 2020

The Iowa General Assembly has entered week three of the 2020 legislative session, this is the second year of the two-year assembly. Last Friday, Jan. 24, the deadline for individual representatives and senators to submit requests for bill and joint resolution drafts to the Legislative Services Agency passed. This means most bills this session have already been submitted. 

In our last update, we gave an overview of our priorities and expectations for the session. Fortunately, we’ve been able to achieve movement on a few top priorities. You will find updates on our key issues detailed below.