Governor Culver Signs Iowa Surface Water Protection Act

DES MOINES, Iowa, April 9, 2008 (ENS) – A new law signed by Governor Chet Culver last week creates a Water Resource Coordinating Council in the Governor’s Office tasked with coordinating the management of Iowa’s water resources.

The Iowa Surface Water Protection Act is the result of more than two years of work by the Iowa Watershed Quality Planning Task Force.

Rick Robinson, environmental policy adviser for the Iowa Farm Bureau, was a member of the task force. “We know farmers and all Iowans want to see improved water quality throughout our state, but it will take a lot more on-the-ground assessment, monitoring and education to bring all citizens together to see real improvements,” he told the publication “Wallace’s Farmer.”

“A crucial component of this plan is the Water Resources Coordinating Council, and we are all excited that the governor’s office will have direct oversight of the group, which is integral to Iowa’s watershed improvement success,” said Robinson.

A tributary of the Mississippi, the Iowa
River is 300 miles long.
(Photo credit unknown)

The Council will coordinate 12 state agencies to assess Iowa’s water resources and develop a marketing campaign to educate and engage Iowans about the need to take personal responsibility for water quality in their local watershed.

Among the participating agencies are the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa Homeland Security, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Iowa Soil Conservation Division of the state Department of Agriculture.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey said, “Improving water quality is central to the work at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.”

The division of soil conservation is responsible for a wide variety of soil and water quality conservation programs and assists the 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts across the state.

“The Council has the potential to help the wide variety of groups that are focused on improving water quality in the state work together better and avoid duplication that can result from a lack of coordination,” Northey said.

There is no shortage of work to do. The Iowa River ranked as the country’s third most endangered river, according to the conservation group American Rivers’ 2007 annual report, the first time an Iowa river was listed.

American Rivers says toxics, nitrates, and untreated sewage put the Iowa River on the list.

Iowa’s new law requires assessment of both larger and smaller watersheds across the state. Communities will receive help with monitoring and measurement of water quality in their subwatersheds.

Wastewater and stormwater treatment infrastructure will be assessed to find which methods and systems present the greatest level of risk to water quality and the health of residents.

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