Access to clean water is something that all Iowans want and deserve. It is important to have safe drinking water and clean lakes and rivers for recreation. While the state has already made significant progress to improve water quality through various efforts, House Republicans remain committed to devoting substantial resources in order to protect and preserve Iowa’s waterways.
During Governor Branstad’s condition of the state address in January, he detailed a bold, innovative plan to significantly increase resources available to water quality efforts without raising taxes. While the initial plan failed to gain traction, it served as a springboard for a conversation on how we can improve the quality of Iowa’s streams and waterways.
Similar to the governor’s initial plan, the House Republican plan devoted nearly half a billion dollars towards improving Iowa’s water quality without raising taxes. Our plan appropriated money from the current sales tax on metered water and also from the state’s existing infrastructure budget and invested it in practices proven to reduce runoff and soil erosion. Because water quality is a critical issue to the whole state, our plan would have funded improvements for both urban and rural projects to ensure that we tackle this problem at all levels.
Unfortunately, this plan, nor any plan to improve Iowa’s water quality, received a hearing in the Senate. While this was a missed opportunity this year, I look forward to again making this a top priority next session, to pass a meaningful plan to improve Iowa’s water quality.
We will continue having discussions and working towards a solution, but in the meantime, there are resources currently available to make an impact. A recent opportunity was announced last week by Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, making funding available to municipalities, soil and water conservation districts, watershed groups, and other non-governmental organizations for projects to improve water quality in urban areas. The projects selected will serve to demonstrate practices and provide information to home-owners, municipalities, businesses, and local communities on a local and regional basis. The application and more information are available at www.iowaagriculture.gov.