Former Lawmaker Says Water Bottles Could Help Fund Water Quality

Apr 1, 2016

As Iowa legislators search the state’s budget for money to fund water quality projects, an Iowa environmentalist believes it may be on grocery store shelves.

Ralph Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council, estimates a five-cent tax on plastic bottles containing water and other beverages could bring the needed money to the state.

“We’ve heard it may raise as much as $20 to 25 million a year,” Rosenberg told reporters Friday, following taping of an Iowa Press program on water quality at Iowa Public Television.

Rosenberg said he’s offering the idea because legislators are discussing reallocating money currently appropriated to other needs for water quality projects.

Rosenberg said the proposal would impose a nickel fee on each of the plastic bottles at the time of sale. Unlike Iowa’s bottle deposit law, the money would not be refunded. The funds would instead go to the state treasury for legislators’ appropriation for water quality improvement projects.

“I think it’s an easy fee to implement and operate well,” said Rosenberg, “because you don’t want anything complex.”

Rosenberg, who formerly served in the Iowa General Assembly, said he’s “putting the idea on the table” for consideration. He envisions the money would be used for state cost-sharing with farmers initiating conservation practices to protect Iowa’s waterways.