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Water and Land Priorities

2017 Priorities

The Water and Land Stewardship Program advocates for strong standards and goals for clean water that are science based, reasonable and enforced. We support policies that will reduce pollution from both urban and agricultural sources and restore beneficial uses for drinking water, recreation and wildlife.

agricultural pollution

Agricultural Pollution

Runoff of sediment, fertilizer and manure from agricultural land is the largest source of water pollution in Iowa and is largely unregulated.

To reduce agricultural pollution, the Council supports:

  • Strengthening the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) to include a timeline for achieving the statewide 45% reduction goal for nitrogen and phosphorus, establishment of local reduction goals, and benchmarks to measure progress.
  • Substantial increased state funding for implementation of soil and water conservation practices, including assistance with conservation planning at the farm level to support widespread adoption of conservation practices necessary to meet water quality goals.
  • Adequate sustainable funding for watershed planning, coordination of watershed project implementation, and water monitoring and other assessment measures necessary to effectively target practices to priority areas.  Funding needs to be tied to accountability measures that ensure water quality goals are met.
  • New policies and programs that require a basic standard of care on farmland such as stream buffers, grassed waterways, nutrient management, reduced tillage, and cover crops.
  • New protections that allow DNR to deny or restrict new livestock confinements in sensitive areas such as the karst area of NE Iowa and watersheds above drinking water sources and public lakes
  • Efforts to increase the extent of continuous living cover on the Iowa landscape, including through increasing soil health-building cover crops, perennial crops and extended rotations with small grains.
  • New federal Farm Bill policies that support improved water quality and sustainable farming practices such as crop insurance reform, strengthening conservation compliance, and increased money for conservation programs including technical assistance.
  • Educating consumers about their role in protecting water through the products and labels they purchase. 

water quality standards and enforcement

Water Quality Standards and Enforcement      

The Council supports implementation and enforcement of the Clean Water Act through strong state water quality standards and issuance of permits that protect those standards. 

Priorities include:

  • Adoption of new numeric nutrient standards for lakes, rivers, and streams and development of new use designations and standards for wetlands and cold water streams.
  • Development of effective trading programs between point and non-point sources that supports watershed based targeting of conservation practices and allows greater flexibility for point sources to invest in lower cost pollution reduction practices on agricultural land with accountability to meet water quality goals.  
  • Oversight of DNR wastewater discharge permits, including implementation of Antidegradation requirements, Total Maximum Daily Load limits to restore impaired waters and narrative water quality standards to prevent nuisance algae growth.
  • Work with DNR and Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that wetland protections are being implemented such that adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and other aquatic resources are avoided or minimized to the extent practicable. Where impacts are unavoidable, ensure proper mitigation of lost wetland functions and values.

conservation funding

Conservation Funding

The Council supports funding for conservation and protection of natural resources, including:

  • A sales tax increase of 3/8 of a cent to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
  • Full funding for Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) at $20 million per year. 
  • Adequate funding for Iowa Department of Natural Resource and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to accomplish their missions.