IEC calls for action to reduce nutrient pollution

posted on Monday, August 29, 2022 in Water and Land News

August 29, 2022 - DES MOINES, IA -- The Iowa Environmental Council has released a report calling on state agencies to take action after nearly ten years without progress under the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The report, The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy: Ten Years and No Progress, calls for a timeline and changes in policy to achieve the state’s pollution reduction goals.  

"For decades, Iowa has relied on voluntary and publicly-funded conservation measures to achieve nitrogen and phosphorus reductions in our state waterways. Those voluntary measures aren’t enough," said Alicia Vasto, IEC’s Water Program Associate Director. "As we and many others have stated, we need consequences for failing to meet the goals, not more of the same actions that have gotten us barely out of the starting block." 

"Across the state, I have heard Iowans wishing for cleaner water that is safe for fishing, swimming, and drinking," said Brian Campbell, IEC’s Executive Director. "People are infuriated by how dirty our water is and how little is being done about it. The state needs to take action."

The NRS was completed in 2013 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University. The state legislature codified the NRS as the official state policy to address phosphorus and nitrogen pollution and has allocated more than $500m of state funds, backed by Iowa taxpayers. Under this current state policy and current pace of adoption, nitrogen and phosphorus reduction goals will not be achieved for 22,325 years. 

NRS Timeline

IEC’s report recommends seven updates to the NRS and state policy to accelerate progress: 

  1. Adopt a target date of 2040 
  2. Identify consequences for failing to meet the targets 
  3. Conduct a ten-year review to prioritize practices 
  4. Identify practices to adopt universally 
  5. Implement a targeted watershed demonstration project 
  6. Develop targeted watershed monitoring 
  7. Adopt numeric nutrient criteria 

"The state has an obligation to protect our waters for all Iowans," said Michael Schmidt, IEC staff attorney. "The failure of the NRS shows that we need policy changes that make a difference. Regulations in other states have succeeded at that."  

IEC has set a date with the NRS agencies in September to review and discuss the Council's recommendations. Agencies indicated at the time of adoption that the NRS strategy would require review, analysis, and updating over time to improve results. The above recommendations are sensible and achievable and IEC believes they should be adopted to enhance nutrient reduction efforts in Iowa.

###

  1. clean water
  2. dnr
  3. drinking water
  4. harmful algal blooms
  5. iowa legislature
  6. land stewardship
  7. nitrate pollution
  8. nutrient reduction strategy
  9. phosphorus pollution
  10. public health
  11. recreation
  12. water quality
  13. water recreation
  14. water safety