Clean, safe water is important to all living things.
Consequently, it is very good news that a voluntary water quality initiative launched by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship gained strong support from Hawkeye State farmers during 2013. Seeking to build on that progress, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is hoping to strengthen that effort and other conservation programs in the years ahead.
The secretary seeks to enhance and extend the work already underway as he crafts a departmental budget for fiscal year 2015. In December, he announced that in the budget proposal forwarded to Gov. Terry Branstad, he has requested $6.65 million for the state's water quality initiative and $1 million to support urban conservation.
"I appreciate the strong support the governor, lieutenant governor and Legislature have shown for voluntary, science-based conservation efforts and this request is designed to help us build on progress we have made to this point," Northey said in a statement released by his office Dec. 10. "This level of funding would put the water quality initiative at the same level as the soil conservation cost share program we have operated for decades. And, the $1 million for an urban conservation program would help engage Iowans living in our towns and cities in conservation efforts."
Mindful that a tight budget environment will necessitate careful scrutiny of any proposals for budget increases, Northey has made it clear that he sees these enhanced programs to be very important long-range investments in the Hawkeye State's environment. These investments in tomorrow will help ensure that progress made in 2013 will not be wasted.
According to information provided by IDALS, the department received $2.4 million for the current fiscal year to support the water quality initiative as well as $20 million in one-time appropriations to support conservation and water quality improvements in Iowa. A statement released by the department says the requested funds would allow it to "continue and expand its work to address the quality of our streams and water resources in a scientific, reasonable and cost-effective manner. Funds would prioritize cost share programs in targeted watersheds and allow flexibility to incentivize statewide practice implementation."
The Messenger lauds Northey's commitment to water quality efforts. In championing these programs he is showing that he understands how important these projects are to the state's future. His conservation proposals deserve careful consideration by the governor and the Legislature.