Category Archives: General News

Meet our member organizations: Iowa Association of Water Agencies

As a coalition-based organization, the Iowa Environmental Council would be unable to fulfill our mission without the continued support of our organizational, cooperator and individual members. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with so many incredible partners, and we’d like to help you get to know them better. This is the first entry in our new series: Meet our member organizations. Each entry, we’ll introduce you to one of our member organizations and share some information about how they’re helping create a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa.

We’re kicking off this series with The Iowa Association of Water Agencies (IAWA), a diverse group of large and small water utilities that have banded together to promote clean and safe water. IAWA has been one of the longest standing partners of the Council.

“The Council and IAWA have very similar approaches and goals when it comes to Iowa’s waterways,” said Linda Kinman, who represents the IAWA on the Council’s board of directors. “Both take a holistic approach to water quality, and recognize that any solution needs to be long-term and all encompassing.”

One of IAWA’s main goals is to educate the public about the importance of water quality. To that end, they sponsor the Iowa Children’s Water Festival, a yearly event that has fifth graders from all across the state come to Des Moines and learn about water conservation.

Apart from their yearly event, IAWA also spreads awareness to the larger community by encouraging member utilities to be vocal about water quality issues.

“It used to be that water utility companies were not outspoken about the issues they faced,” Kinman said. “IAWA hast tried to reach out to ask them to engage their communities and promote clean water practices.”

IAWA is an active part of numerous communities, and strives to build strong coalitions with organizations with similar goals.

“Our biggest success comes from working with and coordinating other groups,” Kinman said. “By partnering with others, we can push legislation further and protect the environment more effectively.”

As for the continued partnership with the Council, IAWA remains enthusiastic.

“We will continue to work with the Council to put pressure on areas that will do the most good,” Kinman said. “We will continue to help focus efforts on improving and protection Iowa’s water resources.”

The 2015 Water Festival will be held on Thursday, May 14 at DMACC’s Ankeny campus. If you are interested in attending or volunteering, please visit their website for more information. If you have any questions about the event or about IAWA, contact Linda Kinman at iawa.icwf@gmail.com

Iowa initiative will help expand threatened habitats

Plant_Grow_Fly

As winter fades into memory and Iowa prepares for the spring, many people take to their backyards and gardens to enjoy the weather and flowering plants. Unfortunately, an important part of this beautiful system is in jeopardy: pollinators.

Butterflies and other pollinators are an important part of the ecosystem. Without pollinators, many plants cannot mature or spread. If pollinators were to disappear completely, we would lose one third of our fruit, vegetables and cotton crops.

Currently, butterflies and other pollinators are disappearing in part due to loss of habitat and feeding resources, changes in the climate and human development. It is estimated that butterflies alone lose 2.2 million acres of habitat each year, but it is not too late to act.

This year, Iowans can help expand the range and improve the quality of habitats for butterflies and other pollinators by planting butterfly-friendly gardens in their home gardens.

Plant.Grow.Fly., an initiative the Council is a proud partner on, aims to help pollinators by promoting gardens that help pollinators throughout Iowa. Through education and advocacy, this initiative hopes to see an improvement in the habitat for pollinators. Those with even a little bit of outside space can plant gardens that support pollinator habitat.

Visit the Plant.Grow.Fly. website, hosted on the Blank Park Zoo site, to access information ranging from instructions on how to start a garden to guides on what plants to grow. Plant. Grow. Fly. makes it easy to get started. Once you’ve created your garden, register it with Plant. Grow. Fly. to show support and help spread the word about the plight of pollinators.

Through education and action, we can help reverse this disturbing trend and save our winged friends.

An easy way to aid Iowa’s wildlife

This year’s tax deadline is rapidly approaching. As you file your Iowa tax form, please take a moment to consider supporting an important cause: Iowa wildlife. By donating a portion of your tax returns to the Wildlife Diversity Program, you can help protect and preserve Iowa’s wildlife.

You can support the Wildlife Diversity Program by checking off a small box at the bottom of your tax forms. This box, historically called the Chickadee Check-off, is now listed as the Fish/Wildlife Fund. Although the name may have changed, the donation process is still as easy as it is helpful. Simply write the amount you wish to donate on the space provided, and the entire donation, which will be tax deductible in next year’s filing, will be sent directly to support the program.

The Wildlife Diversity Program itself is designed to address numerous important environmental issues, including managing landscapes and ecosystems, monitoring and recording wildlife across the state and designating land for public conservation. The program also conducts public outreach to educate and build awareness about Iowa wildlife and its needs.

Donations from the Fish/Wildlife Fund have already helped restore numerous animals back into Iowa wildlife including peregrine falcons, ospreys and trumpeter swans.

So this year, when you sit down to file your taxes, please help keep Iowa’s environment one of the most diverse and beautiful in the nation.

For more information, please visit the Chickadee Check-off website.

Topsoil preservation rule at risk

As member based coalition, we rely on the voices of our supporters to help enact meaningful change for Iowa and its environment. Today, you have an opportunity to make your voice heard to help preserve topsoil and protect water.

Last Friday, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held their final public forum on a proposed amendment to a topsoil replacement rule that mandates developers put a minimum of four inches of topsoil back onto construction sites. The amendment would remove current requirement and replace it with vague language that requires developers to return topsoil unless it is “infeasible.” If passed, this change that could have negative repercussions for Iowa’s land and waterways.

“[The topsoil preservation rule] aids the infiltration of storm water runoff and reduces polluted runoff and the risk of flooding,” Water Program Director Susan Heathcote said at the forum. “Urban runoff is made worse when lawns do not have an adequate layer of topsoil that can absorb and hold water and instead are underlain by compacted clay that acts more like concrete than good Iowa soil.”

The Council has submitted written comments to the DNR, and we encourage you join us and speak up today, as the public comment period for the change ends tomorrow, April 1. Time and time again, our members and supporters have proven that public comments send a strong and clear message to policy makers that Iowans care about our water and land. Comments may be sent to Environmental Specialist Senior Joe Griffin at joe.griffin@dnr.iowa.gov.

Bridging the Clean Energy Divide

In recent years, Iowa has become a national leader in renewable energy, increasing wind power, solar power and energy efficiency. The benefits of transitioning to clean energy and energy efficiency are many and range from strengthening our economy to improving our quality of life. Renewable energy also offers unique health and economic benefits for Iowa’s seniors and low-income individuals.

Join us for Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow, a panel discussion about the health and economic benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency for low-income individuals and seniors in Iowa.

Bridging the Clean Energy Divide: Affordable Clean Energy Solutions for Today and Tomorrow
April 7 | 7:30-9:00 a.m.
Olsen Center | Des Moines University
No cost to attend, RSVPs are appreciated 

Panelists include:
Eric Burmeister, Executive Director, Polk County Housing Trust Fund
Kirk Kraft, Project Development & Landowner Relations, RPMAccess
Kate McCormick, Midwest Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council
Dr. Yogesh Shah, MD, MPH, Associate Dean-Department of Global Health, Des Moines University

Energy efficiency and renewable energy bring multiple benefits to people, including making homes safer and more comfortable, giving people control over their own energy generation, reducing pollution costs, and making electricity bills smaller and more predictable. All of these benefits are particularly important for low-income individuals.

Households with less disposable income benefit most from cutting energy costs, and are already disproportionately affected by the impacts of pollution from other generation. Implementing policies that particularly help to expand access to clean energy for low-income families is critical for meeting the common goals of saving money, increasing healthy lifestyle, and creating high-quality jobs.

Questions? Contact Climate/Energy Policy Specialist Cindy Lane at 515-244-1194 x203.