Gov. Kim Reynolds today signed her first bill into law as the state’s chief executive, approving water quality legislation while surrounded in her formal office by supporters from inside and outside the legislature.
Senate File 512 appropriates $282 million over the next 12 years to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus flowing into Iowa waterways.
It’s designed to help the state meet the goals of its Nutrient Reduction Strategy to reduce nutrients in the water by 45 percent.
Reynolds said good work is already being done on the farm.
“More Iowa crop and livestock farmers like those who are in the room today are utilizing proven in-field and edge-of-field practices that are reducing nutrients in our waterways,” Reynolds said. “Senate File 512 will provide additional assistance to expand those great efforts.”
In addition to grants for improved practices on the farm, the bill creates a fund for water quality
improvements for cities and utilities.
The money in the bill comes from a tax on metered drinking water, which currently funds other priorities across state government. It also includes gambling revenue which would otherwise pay for infrastructure projects.
“The long term predictable funding provided by 512 will make it easier to leverage funds to attract additional partner investments, because partners will be able to see real evidence of the state's commitment to water quality,” said Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Deputy Director Mike Naig.
On average the bill will provide $27 million a year for water quality projects, starting with $4 million next year.
Some experts estimate it will cost four to $6 billion to meet the goals of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
Naig said the state is not tracking all of the private investment that’s being made.
“There's a lot of conservation work that gets done without a single dollar of government assistance,” Naig said.
Reynolds praised the collaboration behind the bill.
“This is a monumental step forward but I want to ensure everyone that this water quality discussion is not over,” Reynolds said. “Rather we're going to take this opportunity to build on the momentum of the passage of Senate File 512 and those conversations have already begun.”