Voluntary conservation, the prevalent method in Iowa, is not making the state’s water any cleaner, according to a study released today by the Environmental Working Group.
“If we are serious about cleaning up Iowa’s water, we are going to need regulations” to curb damaging farming practices, said study co-author Craig Cox, EWG senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.
The 52-page statistical analysis of Iowa water quality data, titled “Murky Waters,” concludes that Iowa rivers, streams and lakes are no cleaner than they were 10 years ago and predicts water quality “will still be poor 10 years from now, given business as usual.”
The critique of voluntary conservation comes just weeks after state leaders announced the Iowa Nutrient Management Strategy, which is intended through voluntary conservation practices to greatly reduce the volume of nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizer washed into state waters from farm fields.
“I can’t see how a voluntary program would yield the necessary amount of change in the way we farm,” said Susan Heathcote, water programs coordinator for the Iowa Environmental Council.
What do you think? Should Iowa farmers be subject to stricter soil and water conservation regulations, or are voluntary incentive programs sufficient to protect the state’s soil and water?