Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Water Land Legacy’June 2, 2011
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.
Written by guest author, Marian Gelb, Executive Director, Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa voters will have a historic opportunity on November 2, 2010, to vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy constitutional amendment. Protecting Iowa’s water and soil is at the heart of this amendment. Specifically, the amendment will create the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which will provide a permanent, reliable and accountable revenue source to improve water quality and natural areas in Iowa. Funding will include fish and wildlife habitat and parks, trails, in addition to aiding in conservation of agricultural soils and restoring wetlands to protect against future flooding.
Recent data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources shows that 53% of Iowa’s water sources rate “poor,” and Iowa currently loses an average of five tons of soil per acre each year due to erosion. Over 500 of Iowa’s waters have been deemed “impaired.” Funding to protect our natural resources remains at near historic lows. As of today, Iowa ranks 47th out of 50 states in funding for conservation, despite the fact that more than 27,000 Iowa jobs are supported by outdoor recreation. Nobody will dispute the fact that Iowa’s distinct character and our quality of life are directly tied to our state’s natural resources. Iowa’s parks and lakes receive more than 25 million visits each year, and our fertile soil provides the backbone to our economy.
The stakes for Iowa’s natural resources on November 2 are incredibly high. We must act now. By passing this amendment in November, we can prevent the permanent loss of soil, water and wildlife and retain Iowa’s quality of life and natural beauty so our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can enjoy the state the same way we do. The good news is, by cleaning up our water supply and conserving Iowa’s soils, we have the opportunity to actually leave the state to future generations better than we found it.
A vote for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy Amendment is a vote for the creation of the Trust Fund – not a vote for a tax increase. Revenue for the Trust Fund will come from allocating 3/8ths of one cent from sales tax revenue the next time the Iowa legislature raises the state sales tax. This funding recommendation was based on over three years of research and study conducted by a legislative advisory committee. The advisory committee concluded that those funds, in addition to annual state budget allocations, would meet current needs. Once created, the Trust Fund will be managed responsibly, including open, public competition for funding, mandatory audits and citizen committee oversight.
The time is now to start investing in Iowa’s natural resources. We have a proud history of farming, biking along the Heritage Trail, hiking the Loess Hills, fishing on North Bear, and teaching our sons and daughters to appreciate wildlife. The quality and condition of our natural resources is the responsibility of all Iowans. Please go to the polls on November 2 and vote YES on Question #1.
For more information on how to get involved: Mark Langgin, campaign manager for Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy, firstname.lastname@example.org; 515-707-0266. Visit www.IowasWaterAndLandLegacy.org for more information.
The Board of Water Works Trustees supports the Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund