Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Celebrates Five Years

The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy celebrated its fifth anniversary last week at the Iowa State University BioCentury Research Farm near Boone.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig introduced the achievement, "Point and non-point, urban and rural, ag and non-ag must work together to make water quality improvements. And so, collaboration has been critically important to all of our efforts over the last five years."

The goal of the strategy is to assess and reduce nutrients to Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. It is designed to direct efforts to reduce nutrients in surface water from both point and non-point sources in a scientific, reasonable, and cost effective manner.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture says in the last five years of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, 8,000 farmers signed up to use a water quality focused practices, spending $17 million to try cover crops, no till, strip-till, or nitrification inhibitors.

Also in that time, twelve cities and seven industries have met the point source reduction targets of 66 percent for nitrogen and five cities and three industries have met point source reduction targets of 75 percent for phosphorus removal.

The Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University has also provided $7 million to fund 60 grants evaluating performance of current conservation practices.

Director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center Dr. Hongwei Xin says, "The science that frames the nutrient reduction strategy was very well received, we truly believe that it is a one of a kind, first of the nation, a model for many states and regions to follow."

At the event, EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford says they are committed and will continue to be a partner in the state of Iowa to address nutrient reduction, "In a way that makes sense, in a way that gets the job done. In a way that treats our farmers, our communities fairly. And again addresses what we believe is a great challenge, but also a great opportunity to improve water quality in Iowa and across the Mississippi River Basin."

Looking to the future, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says long-term funding will be given to help Iowa build and expand water quality efforts on the foundation of statewide initiatives.

She says, "Iowans across the state are making water quality a high priority. And it's that commitment that was also apparent during the 2018 legislative session water quality bill was passed that had been worked on the previous three years."