Letter to the editor: Minor omissions do not change facts of all-time-high nitrates

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To the editor:

In a recent letter to the editor, Dorothy Tate, public relations manager for the Iowa Soybean Association, made some comments regarding a Nov. 6 article I wrote for ThePerryNews.com.

The source of information I used for the article was the Oct. 29 issue of “Advance,” the newsletter published by the Iowa Soybean Association Research and Programs.

According to Tate, the nitrate water data given in the article is owned by the Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance. The Soybean Association was simply hired to collect the information. Tate did not say any of the information I gave was incorrect, nor did she refute my main thesis of the article: Iowa has a serious water pollution problem.

The ownership of the data does not change the facts that were recorded.

The information compiled by the Iowa Soybean Association and owned by the Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance concurs with the Raccoon River Watershed Association’s water testing results, which showed 2015 had very high levels of nitrate in the river.

Tate also notes I did not mention the weather factors in my article. Weather is always an issue in agriculture. The heavy rains of 2015 did not cause the high nitrate readings. The pollutants did not fall out of the sky in the form of raindrops.

The nitrate, from fertilizer and manure, was put on the land by the agriculture community and — because of inadequate conservation practices — the nutrients were washed off the fields and into the streams, causing the record-high nitrate readings.

Tate mentions Elk Run Creek, a tributary of the Raccoon River, which had the highest nitrate readings of all 45 sites recorded in the study. In March 2015 the Elk Run Watershed Association received a grant of $713,000 for use in conservation practices and for “one-on-one dialogue” with farmers in the area. This information was not in the “Advance” newsletter.

I have not seen any data showing improvement of water quality in Elk Run Creek since the grant was awarded, but I do hope the efforts are successful in making Elk Run Creek cleaner along with the other watershed improvement projects the Iowa Soybean Association is working on to clean up Iowa’s waterways.

Ray Harden, Perry

Harden is a member of the Dallas County Soil and Water Conservation District Commission.

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