How Iowan water quality impacts the local area

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 512 into law last week. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Water is a fundamental ingredient for all aspects of life, including sustaining the human body, vegetarian growth, and weather. It's present in everything, from our skin, to the clouds floating overhead, to the vibrant floral blooms that line our sidewalks in the warm months. In a state like Iowa, where the cultivation and sale of vegetative products is an important gear in the machine of commerce, water is more than just a refreshing drink on a hot day. It's a vital form of capital, without which we wouldn't be able to boast our emerald and golden fields of corn. With this absolute necessity in mind, the shortcomings in Iowan's water quality come as a surprise.

The prevailing issue with Iowa's water is an excess of nutrients, according to the Nutrient Reduction Strategy developed by Iowa State University. This stems from a combination of farmland runoff, discharge from point sources such as communities and wastewater treatment facilities, and naturally occurring conditions within the state's water bodies. The primary offending nutrients are phosphorous and nitrogen, and the overabundance of these elements has repercussions far beyond Iowa's borders; when these chemically unbalanced bodies of water feed into the Mississippi, and consequently the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen levels in the water are choked off. This creates hypoxia, a condition where marine life cannot survive but algae can thrive.

Locals who use private wells have likely felt the impact of Iowa's water quality struggles. Well water usually requires extra treatment measures for consumption, bathing, and cooking when the nutrient levels are too high. Additionally, cities and businesses face increased costs when they attempt to meet clean water standards because of the water quality issues. Those added expenses for processing and treatment lead to higher sewer bills for residents.

The relevancy of this issue has peaked, as Governor Kim Reynolds has recently signed into law the bill titled Senate File 512, which enforces several amendments to financing for water quality control and the taxation procedure thereof.

With the introduction of File 512, nearly $300 million will be made available for water quality efforts in Iowa over the course of the next 12 years. According to a press release from the Iowa Corn Growers Association, these state dollars will be matched by federal, private, farmer, and landowner investments.

Read the full story in the February 7 edition.