NORTHEY RELEASES IOWA WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE 2017 LEGISLATIVE REPORT
DES MOINES –Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today highlighted the Iowa Water Quality Initiative 2017 Legislative Report during his presentation to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee.
“This report is a good snapshot of the water quality efforts underway through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. Thanks to the support we have received from the Governor and Legislature we continue to expand the efforts and work with additional farmers. We are excited about the progress that has been made and the potential to scale-up efforts,” Northey said.
The 8-page report provides an update on the $3.8 million made available for statewide cost share for water quality practices and on the 45 demonstration projects that are operating across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices.
The report also updates tracking/accountability efforts underway, share information about research being conducted by the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University and highlights the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project underway in Iowa. The Iowa DNR also provided an update on the efforts of point sources that is included in the report.
During the hearing Northey also reiterated his support for the proposal passed by the Iowa House of Representatives last session that would have provided nearly $500 million through 2029 for water quality efforts in the state. The Department would use the additional funding to continue offering cost share statewide to farmers trying new water quality practices, expand work in targeted watersheds to achieve measurable water quality improvements, and continue to develop new programs to help engage all Iowans in water quality efforts.
The Department received $9.6 million for the current fiscal year for the Water Quality Initiative. Gov. Branstad included $17.6 million in fiscal year 2018 and $25.1 million in fiscal year 2019 for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative in his budget proposal released earlier this year.
Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.
The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.
The initiative is seeing some exciting results. Last fall Northey announced that 1,800 farmers committed $3.8 million in cost share funds to install nutrient reduction practices. The practices that were eligible for this funding are cover crops, no-till or strip till, or using a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 980 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 830 past users that are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced-rate of cost share. Farmers using cost-share funding are providing an estimated $6 million in their own funding to adopt these water quality practices.
A total of 45 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 22 urban water quality demonstration projects. More than 150 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $25.28 million dollars to go with the $16.09 million in state funding going to these projects.
More than $325 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost-share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.