At this time of year the legislators have generally wrapped up the state’s business and gone home. But 2011 finds them still haggling over the budget. Cuts in budget appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and Natural Resources (DNR) could have potential impacts on the drinking water industry and the protection of water resources treated for drinking water.
The IDALS/DNR appropriation is less than 1% of the total state budget, yet they continue to experience severe budget cuts. These cuts will negatively impact services provided and increase the amount of response time to provide those services. Last year 63% of Iowa voters told legislators they wanted more money spent on the protection of Iowa’s water, land, and air resources (I Will Campaign). Instead, budgets for both departments have been cut again. Ramifications of the appropriation budget cuts could:
- Potentially increase fees paid by all Iowa drinking water utilities
- Delay flood plain mapping
- Delay evaluation of Iowa’s groundwater aquifers to project and ensure future water availability
- Reduce lake and ambient stream water quality sampling
- Reduce siting assistance and enforcement of livestock facility regulations
- Curtail watershed projects in the Des Moines and Raccoon River watersheds
Surface and ground water resources and drinking water infrastructure are owned by you, as a citizen of Iowa. You have charged the state (the governor and legislature) with improving and protecting Iowa’s water resources. You have charged each utility with the maintenance and protection of its infrastructure. Continued budget cuts and the lack of political will in discussing and acting on water quality and quantity issues needs to be addressed. Advocacy as a citizen is a powerful tool. Use it to ensure that your infrastructure and abundant water resources are improved and protected for future generations.