To the editor:
I am a volunteer lobbyist this session for the Raccoon River watershed Association. I also am a volunteer lobbyist for the Iowa Division of the Izaak Walton League and Citizens for a Healthy Iowa.
This session I have been arranging sit-down private meetings between leadership and representatives of the Iowa Environmental Council (Kerri Johannsen and Ann Robinson), Izaak Walton League (Jim Caligiuri), Iowa Rivers Revival (Dane Schuman and Molly Hanson), Environmental Law and Policy Center (Steve Falck) and me.
We have met with Ken Rozenboom, Thomas Shipley, Brad Zaun and Bill Dix in the Iowa Senate and Mike Sexton, John Wills, Rob Taylor, Norlan Mommsen in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Here is the deal: The Iowa House passed a bill last year to fund water quality improvement that did not pass the Iowa Senate. A very similar bill has come out this session with the number SSB 1034 (Senate Study Bill) with “Proposed Governor Bill” on it.
I think it needs to be taken very seriously.
The bill does come up with increased funding for water quality improvement. However, it lacks sustainable, substantial funding and does not embrace a watershed approach, the prioritization of watersheds or the monitoring and measurement that would include starting points (N, P and bacteria measures), benchmarks and timelines.
There are some good things in the bill, but there is no accountability for actually improving water quality. We need a commitment to use a scientific method of 1) establishing a starting point 2) trying something 3) measuring the effects and 4) reporting to the public.
Too much federal and state money has been spent using “dollars spent” or “numbers of acres” as the dependent variable. No! The dependent variable must be “water quality measures” like N, P, transparency, algae amounts, bacteria counts and similar metrics.
So please call or write Rep. Chip Baltimore, Sen. Brad Zaun, Rep. Ralph Watts, Rep. John Forbes, Rep. Clel Baudler, Rep. Rob Taylor or whomever your person is and ask some questions. They must be made aware that we are watching them at this critical juncture. Baltimore is writing the bill. He is key.
I like to talk about wetlands — protected, restored or constructed — for these reasons: Flood reduction and reduced bank erosion downstream, N, P, bacteria and other farm chemical reduction, and habitat for ducks, pheasants, BMIs, other birds, pollinators, Monarchs, deer and many others.
If we can’t stock and protect beavers so they can restore our shallow lakes and wetlands, maybe we can pay farmers and others to hold back some water for health and recreational reasons.
Thanks for your help on the one victory last year with the turtle protection bill. One more Rules Committee meeting to go, and we might begin to see a recovery of our turtles.