Today, the Water Resources and Coordinating Council (WRCC), which exists to “preserve and protect Iowa’s water resources, and to coordinate the management of those resources in a sustainable and fiscally responsible manner,” held its bi-monthly meeting.
For the past year, the Iowa Environmental Council has attended these meetings (as it did today) and called upon the Water Resources Coordinating Council (WRCC) to set a timeline and local goals to reach the 45% statewide reduction goal set forth in Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has repeatedly failed to take a vote, or even attempt to gain consensus among WRCC members, to do so. Today was no different. Unfortunately refusing to acknowledge or address the issue does not cause it to cease to exist.
If the WRCC and the state’s leaders had listened to Iowans that raised questions about the all-voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy and taken meaningful action to address concerns about the lack of local goals, timelines, consistent water quality monitoring, transparency and sustainable funding, perhaps Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) wouldn’t have found it necessary to file intent of a lawsuit against three counties in northern Iowa.
We can blame nature, high rainfall or any other variety of factors, but this response won’t solve the problem. Iowans want to see actions, not excuses. Excuses don’t solve problems. The NRS is a voluntary strategy, and no watersheds in Sac, Calhoun of Buena Vista counties volunteered, so no WQI watershed projects have been proposed. How does the NRS plan to address water quality issues in these areas and others like them? These are questions the public wants and deserves to have answered.
The Iowa Environmental Council will continue to give voice to Iowan’s concerns about the state’s plan to reduce pollution in our lakes and rivers threatening safe drinking water and outdoor recreation, and call upon the WRCC to take the steps necessary to ensure we are making meaningful, scientifically-verifiable progress on achieving clean water in Iowa.