In November on Bleeding Heartland, desmoinesdem posted a review of reaction to Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which aspires to clean up the nitrogen and phosphorous pollution that together with Iowa's chronic soil erosion is keeping the state's waters brown and green instead of clear and clean.
Now the public comment deadline for the new strategy has been extended by two weeks, giving Iowans one more chance to weigh in before the comment period ends January 18.
Immediately after the release of the strategy, the Council's executive director, Ralph Rosenberg, called for the deadline to be extended:
The authors of this Strategy took more than two years to complete it, yet members of the public will be provided 45 days—during the hectic holiday season—to comment on the document. To review what has been presented as a ‘comprehensive and integrated approach’ taking on Iowa’s most widespread and complex water pollution problem, this period of time is not enough. [...]
The way a nitrogen and phosphorous strategy is implemented in Iowa will be critical to whether the program ultimately succeeds or not. It is clear implementing this strategy will require significant investment by Iowa’s taxpayers at the local and state level. The public deserves a more transparent, inclusive process to review and improve this critical strategy to ensure public dollars will be well spent.
The Iowa Environmental Council is posting resources related to the nutrient strategy on its website, iaenvironment.org, and has expressed concern with several areas of the proposed strategy:
- The strategy’s approach for addressing agricultural sources of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution (also referred to as non-point source pollution) will fall short of creating significant, sustainable, statewide improvements in Iowa’s waters. The strategy's approach for engaging farmers is neither substantially different nor better from what is already happening in Iowa.
- The strategy does not set specific goals for lower nitrogen and phosphorous pollution levels in local lakes and rivers. These goals are necessary to ensure the strategy solves water pollution problems facing rivers and lakes in Iowa as well as downstream.
- The strategy proposes new mandatory standards for how cities treat their wastewater to reduce pollution levels. However, these improvements will likely not solve Iowa’s larger pollution problem unless they are accompanied by more effective participation by agriculture.
The Council has also prepared suggestions for members of the public who wish to comments, and is delivering comments submitted through its action alert system to the state agencies responsible for the strategy.