Water Quality Initiative moves forward

In July, Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law the Iowa Legislature’s latest commitment to an ongoing partnership with farmers to protect the Hawkeye State’s soil and water resources. This action coupled with approval of another bill also signed earlier in the month makes available an additional $9.6 million to support the Iowa Water Quality Initiative during the current fiscal year.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey welcomed this move in a statement explaining the importance of this undertaking.

“Iowans in both rural and urban areas continue to be engaged in efforts to improve water quality,” he said. “These funds will help as we work to continue to build and expand practices shown to protect water quality and monitor progress. Iowa is a model nationally for the progress that can be made on this important issue.”

Launched in 2013, the Iowa Water Quality Initiative is designed to facilitate a collaboration of public and private entities to achieve “a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters,” according to a statement released by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The funds the Legislature has made available to IDALS for the current fiscal year will make it possible for the department to continue its program of sharing in the cost of conservation efforts undertaken by farmers and others to enhance water quality throughout the state.

This program has been enthusiastically supported by Iowa farmers and has accomplished a good deal already. Under its auspices, during the first two years 1,600 Iowa farmers have been encouraged to invest in trying new water conservation practices, according to information provided in July by IDALS.

The Messenger has strongly backed the Iowa Water Quality Initiative since it was first conceived. This newspaper applauds the governor and Northey for their vision in launching and continuing to support this important investment in our state’s future. Keeping Iowa’s water as free from pollutants as possible deserves high priority attention. That the approach undertaken by this program seeks to mobilize private sector resources rather than simply rely on government spending makes it especially appealing. It is a good example of the appropriate use of tax dollars.