For the past five or six years, there’s been a lot of attention surrounding Iowa's water quality. Last year, a federal judge dismissed the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit against drainage districts in three northern Iowa counties. The utility had claimed the districts were funneling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a major source of drinking water for 500,000 Iowans. Earlier this year, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill she called "monumental," which allocates $282-million for water quality projects in the state. But the law is not without controversy. It includes no requirement to monitor progress towards water cleanup. On April 23rd IPR hosted a conversation at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake to discuss water quality issues. IPR's Clay Masters moderated the discussion. Guests included:
- Tom Isenhart, co-leader of the Science Team at Iowa State University that developed the Science Assessment for the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
- Art Cullen, editor at The Storm Lake Times. Cullen won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial writing last year for “challenging powerful agricultural interests in Iowa.”
- Mary Skopec is executive director of Iowa Lakeside Laboratory. Skopec is based in Spirit Lake and previously worked at the DNR where she held several positions within the Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Section.
- Adam Kiel, of the Iowa Soybean Association. Kiel is operations manager with Iowa Soybeans’ Environmental Programs and Services team and works with farmers across the state in implementing water quality practices on their land.
We listen to the conversation in this special edition of River to River.