Earlier this month record nitrate levels in the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers prompted the Des Moines Water Works to activate its denitrification facility.
Nutrients unused by crops in last year’s drought coupled with a historically wet April led to increased nitrate levels, and CEO and General Manager of the Des Moines Water Works Bill Stowe used the opportunity to criticize the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, claiming it lacked vision, among other things.
Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey disagrees – he says the strategy has great vision because “it actually is taking on a problem that no one else has really been able to address either.”
Northey adds that his department believes “the technologies that are out there will help us do that, and the engagement that we have from producers. The resources that the state government has decided to invest in this will help as well. And we believe that we’re at a time where we can see significant improvements in the efforts that are done out there in the farm to be able to make these engagements.”
The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy offers suggestions for producers to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels running off the farm, also called non-point source pollution. Those suggestions are voluntary, but for nutrients coming from point sources, the framework is more regulatory in nature.