Iowa farmers have the chance to lead on water quality

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The Iowa Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of three northwest Iowa counties in the Raccoon River watershed in a lawsuit brought by Des Moines Water Works. This watershed is the main water source for nearly 500,000 Iowans.

This is the outcome many Iowa farmers were hoping for in this case. They told me it would give them the opportunity to step up and take action to improve our waterways. As a farmer myself, I am in full agreement. Farmers need to come up with solutions and better farming practices to clean up our water and reduce nutrient runoff.

Over the past few years, the Legislature has worked in a bipartisan way to improve state efforts for clean water. Iowa’s Water Quality Initiative is implementing a variety of strategies to improve the health of our waterways. We have increased funding for water quality programs to the highest levels in state history. And Iowans are getting more active in their own watersheds.

But there still are massive needs across the state. Many counties don’t have the staff to work with farmers and landowners who want to implement conservation practices on their property. Some areas have developed clean water plans but don’t have the money to roll them out. Other areas still need to do the leg work of identifying the source of their water quality problems.

So farmers, let’s take our cue from the Iowa Supreme Court decision and make the challenge of clean water a reality throughout Iowa.