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Iowa House passes water quality funding bill

Agribusinesses rejoice as millions of dollars is voted towards sustained water quality funding.

Senate File 512 aims to provide Iowa long-term water quality funding. The House passed the bill 59-41.

Governor Reynolds says she looks forward to signing the bill, her first piece of legislation as governor.

“As I said in my Condition of the State address earlier this month, improving water quality is a shared goal of Iowans,” Reynolds said. “Many stakeholders – both rural and urban – played a key role in supporting this legislation. But make no mistake. Passing this long-awaited legislation does not mean the water quality discussion is over.”

Representative John Wills (R-Dickinson) said “this is just the beginning, not the end.”

“This bill provides $282 million, over 12 years, to the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, using a science-based a collaborative watershed approach,” Wills said. “The nonpoint source pollution part of this bill establishes an agricultural infrastructure program to reduce nutrient loads, and associated sediments and pollutants. It will also create an edge-of-field program and in-field infrastructure program, creating water quality infrastructure.”

Wills adds the bill addresses point source pollution by providing funding for a grant program for cities and utilities, as well as disadvantaged communities.

Liz Hobart serves Growmark as government relations manager. Hobart, who lobbied for Senate File 512 on Growmark’s behalf, thinks the bill will help advance water quality.

“I think Senate File 512 and a lot of water quality efforts going on throughout the state provide our customers and our member-owners the ability to implement those science-based practices on an acre-by-acre, field-by-field, watershed-by-watershed approach, and I think that’s very important,” Hobart said.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says passage of this long-term water quality funding bill helps the Iowa Department of Agriculture (IDALS) take a tremendous step in continuing to scale up water quality efforts underway in the state.

“This funding will allow the Department to expand our investment in locally ledd water quality projects in targeted watersheds while also giving farmers and landowners statewide a chance to try practices focused on water quality,” Northey said.

Northey adds IDALS looks forward to continuing conversation on this important issue and working with all Iowans interested in protecting the state’s water quality.