Cleaner water: tangible benefit of stimulus and bonding bills

Water quality has long been one of Iowa’s biggest environmental problems. Fortunately, the state plans to spend some $455 million cleaning up Iowa rivers and lakes, according to an excellent piece by Perry Beeman in the May 10 edition of the Des Moines Register:

After decades of struggling to address serious pollution problems, the state now has an unprecedented pool of state and federal money to solve some of its worst water-quality problems, said Charles Corell, the water chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

One of the biggest impacts: improved sewage treatment and septic systems in the 500 towns and rural subdivisions that don’t have any. […]

Much of the new money for water quality was approved last month by the Iowa Legislature as part of a huge bond package pushed by Gov. Chet Culver. Other money was awarded as part of flood recovery efforts.

Money for lake restorations – including popular spots like Clear Lake in Cerro Gordo County and Carter Lake in Pottawattamie County – will more than quadruple. Many predict the much larger pool will fuel recreation opportunities and improve local economies. […]

“You essentially have untreated or under-treated sewage getting into waterways,” said Corell, who visited Truesdale and Greenville on Thursday to discuss proposed sewer projects. “And it’s all the time, not just when it rains.”

After the jump I have posted details Beeman compiled about the new money that will be used to improve water quality in Iowa. A large sum came from the federal economic stimulus bill, which didn’t get a single Republican vote in the House of Representatives. Another major source is the I-JOBS bonding initiative, which passed the Iowa House and Senate last month with no Republican votes.

Republicans keep bashing the federal stimulus spending and the state-level borrowing, as if no Iowans will benefit from these policies (aside from the few thousand people who will work on the projects). One typical example was the e-mail blast Iowa Senate Republican leader Paul McKinley sent out last week. You won’t find it on the comically awful Iowa Senate Republicans website, which appears not to have been updated since April 16. However, I receive “McKinley’s Memos” via e-mail, and I’ve posted the May 15 edition after the jump to give you a flavor of current Republican ideology.

I addressed most of the points McKinley raises in this post. The Party of No’s indiscriminate stance against borrowing fails to recognize that when interest rates are relatively low, bonding to pay for worthwhile projects is a wise investment. It may be hard to assign a dollar value to reducing water pollution in Iowa, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for human health, biodiversity and local economies.

Hundreds of thousands of Iowans will benefit from the clean water projects discussed in Beeman’s article. If Republicans had their way, the sewer improvements and lake cleanups wouldn’t happen for years, if ever.

Please share your own thoughts about penny-wise and pound-foolish conservative dogma in this thread.

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