Iowans diligently working to improve nutrient management and water quality can gain valuable perspectives on the topic by assessing similar efforts in other states.
The Iowa Soybean Association is providing a helping hand with its release of a comprehensive report titled, “Contrasting currents: Examining water quality efforts in Iowa and the Chesapeake Bay.”
Available online at www.iasoybeans.com/ContrastingCurrents/), the report is the outcome of a three-month investigative project comparing ongoing efforts to improve water quality in Iowa with those undertaken by the nation’s largest estuary.
It features the perspectives of more than a dozen farmers, government officials and environmental experts in the bay watershed and in Iowa compiled by two experienced members of ISA’s communications team.
Why the Chesapeake Bay? Because many participating in water quality discussions in Iowa refer to the bay as an example of how to effectively deal with water pollution.
Six East Coast states and the District of Columbia have been trying for decades to reduce nitrates, phosphorous and sediment entering the bay.
One strategy has been instituting numerous mandates on agriculture to force farmers to do their part.
Iowa is taking a different approach. The state’s nutrient reduction strategy seeks to reduce nitrate and phosphorous loads entering Iowa waterways by 45 percent from point and nonpoint sources.
It offers farmers like me and land owners flexibility to choose and use practices proven to have a positive impact on water.
And it meshes with regulations already on the books addressing nutrient management.
What the series points out, backed up by facts and expert testimony, is:
A). There are no easy answers or quick fixes.
B). Water quality is complex and the factors impacting it are vast.
C). Many people are committed to getting results, both in Iowa and the Chesapeake Bay.
D). Progress is not linear but ebbs and flows due to numerous factors including weather.
E). Regardless if the system is regulatory or voluntary, it takes significant financial investments and decades to improve water quality on a watershed scale.
What is the best way to improve water quality?
Many are working diligently to answer this question and the substantive facts and perspectives included in “Contrasting Currents” will help.
Fredericks farms near Osage and serves as president of the Iowa Soybean Association.
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