Wetlands are a natural for fighting pollution

Farmers, drainage districts should consider this option

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was something completely natural that could take care of at least some water pollution problems?

It turns out there are such things.

They’re called wetlands and they have the capability of removing nitrates from water. In simplest terms, the process works like this: nitrate-laden water flows into a wetland, where the vegetation takes out the nitrates, and cleaner water eventually emerges from the wetland.

Water quality has been an ongoing concern in Iowa. The magnitude of the problem was illustrated last year when a new law was enacted to provide $15 million annually over a decade to address water issues.

Last week, a project called Scaling Up Capacity for Implementation of Water Quality Wetlands was introduced during a presentation in Fort Dodge. It calls for creating small wetlands on farms to reduce the amount of nitrates in water. Representatives of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa made the presentation.

The wetlands proposed in that project would be specifically placed where they would receive large amounts of nitrate-laden water from tile lines.

Each of the proposed wetlands would encompass 10 to 12 acres, and could be smaller.

Obviously, such wetlands are not the final answer for all of Iowa’s water quality problems.

But they can be an answer to some of those problems. And they’re an all natural solution. After the wetland is created, the vegetation will work its wonders with no chemical or mechanical assistance.

Because of the advantages offered by such wetlands, we urge farmers and drainage district trustees to give them serious consideration.


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