After the release of a new strategy for reducing nitrogen and phosphorous in Iowa’s rivers and lakes by an interagency team of state officials from Iowa State University, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Monday, Ralph Rosenberg, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council, released the following statement:
“The authors of this Strategy took more than two years to complete it, yet members of the public will be provided 45 days—during the hectic holiday season—to comment on the document. To review what has been presented as a ‘comprehensive and integrated approach’ taking on Iowa’s most widespread and complex water pollution problem, this period of time is not enough.
“The public comment period should be extended to 90 days. An extension would provide greater opportunity for public input, including from members of the newly elected state legislature which will not convene until after the current 45 day period expires.
“A short period for public comments is especially troublesome because of media accounts that certain agricultural organizations may have had disproportionate access to comment on and review early drafts of the strategy.
“The public, including the Iowa Environmental Council’s members across the state, expect policies outlined in this strategy to be effective in producing clear results for cleaner water in Iowa’s rivers and lakes, in addition to the Gulf of Mexico.
“The way a nitrogen and phosphorous strategy is implemented in Iowa will be critical to whether the program ultimately succeeds or not. It is clear implementing this strategy will require significant investment by Iowa’s taxpayers at the local and state level. The public deserves a more transparent, inclusive process to review and improve this critical strategy to ensure public dollars will be well spent.”
Previously, the Iowa Environmental Council released a short article summarizing its position that new partnerships with farmers (in addition to efforts by municipalities and industry) will be critical to achieving clean water success for Iowa.
The Iowa Environmental Council is a diverse alliance of member and cooperator organizations and individual Iowans working together to support a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa. More information about the Council is available at its website, iaenvironment.org.