Flood reduction and clean water solutions are not magic

Angelisa Belden is communications and development director for the Iowa Environmental Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

Iowans are dealing with the aftermath of receding flood waters this week. Heart-wrenching stories have emerged about returning to decimated homes, topsoil-choked streams headed for the Gulf of Mexico, and the sad task of removing lifeless bodies of young calves who couldn’t withstand the deluge.

Commentators and elected officials are missing the point – or at least failing to bring proper attention to – the obvious and science-based solution to not only water quantity but water quality crises facing our state. We must adopt policy and pass laws that slow down the water running off of our farm fields. That task starts with the federal Farm Bill but ends here at home with efforts to replace Iowa’s lax environmental rules with meaningful protections for land and water.

Senate File 548, the bill that would restrict the use of loans from the State Revolving Fund to purchase land for water quality projects, is a step in the wrong direction.

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Water is our shared lifeblood

Sable Knapp‘s home state is Iowa, and she currently lives in Maine. -promoted by Laura Belin

The human body is two-thirds water, as is the surface of the planet we inhabit. Water quality profoundly affects human health and clean water protections must be upheld. Everyone should be able to have the peace of mind that comes from guaranteed safe, free drinking water.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement works persistently to defend Iowa’s water. By suing the State of Iowa for failing to ensure the safety of Raccoon River, Iowa CCI and Food & Water Watch are sending a strong “No Means No” message to polluters and politicians who authorize the pollution of Iowa’s rivers. Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO, aptly said, “We are completely at the mercy of what gets dumped in our rivers each day.”

The rallying cry “Water is Life” is a fundamental truth. Poet and activist Lyla June evokes this power in her poem “And God is the Water,” which concludes with the words, “I am the rock and God is the water.” The way we care for nature reflects the way we care for ourselves.

As America’s waterways slip further into the hands of corporate players, subsequent pollution continuously affects everyone. Iowa’s elected officials must be held responsible for facilitating the revitalization and protection of the water that flows through Iowa.

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When the floodgates open

Leland Searles is a photographer and ecological consultant with expertise in botany, hydrology, soils, streams, and wildlife. -promoted by Laura Belin

“The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” (Georg Hegel, German philosopher)

There are too many potential topics for this blog, the third in a series, and that leads to a certain amount of indecisiveness. Until something happens. That something is the flooding that has already occurred in the Midwest this year, and the expectation of more to come. So far, western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and northwestern Missouri have experienced the worst of it, with a much larger area affected to some extent.

The degree of flooding in the Missouri basin this year is nearly unrivaled in the record books. Still, I want to push this point: we should have known, and we should have acted to prevent it or mitigate it. Dams do not work in the long run, and when the system of dams was built along the Missouri in the 1940s and 1950s, the year 2019 was a long time off. We are now in “the long run” that no one then foresaw.

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Representative Fisher’s last chance

Leaders of Iowa House or Senate committees can bury legislation without ever allowing discussion, let alone a vote. As Emma Schmit and Adam Mason report, that’s what’s happening with a bill that could help clean up our state’s filthy waterways. -promoted by Laura Belin

Republican State Representative Dean Fisher has less than one week left to do the right thing for Iowa’s rural communities, independent farms, and water quality.

Fisher has a choice to make this week. As chair of the House Environmental Protection committee, he is single-handedly holding up progress on a bill that would enact a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms. We aren’t talking about a floor vote or even a committee vote– we’re talking his outright refusal to even assign the bill to a subcommittee so that it could be debated.

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How poor soil health and missing infrastructure leave our rivers filthy

John Norwood is an elected commissioner of the Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District. -promoted by Laura Belin

On the evening of February 27, your Soil and Water Commissioners for Region 6 (including Polk, Dallas, and Madison Counties) gathered for our Spring Regional meeting in Winterset.

We heard from a variety of state and federal partners and discussed staffing, funding, and priorities for improving our soil health and water quality.

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