0525807rep-d-olson-2007reduced.jpgA new initiative to improve Iowa’s water quality was approved by the Iowa House of Representatives today, called the Surface Water Protection Act. The bill is the result of a two-year watershed planning task force.

“It’s been 21 years since the Legislature created the Groundwater Protection Act to improve the quality of our ground water and we’ve had great success stopping contamination,” said State Representative Donovan Olson, D-Boone, who chairs the House Environmental Protection Committee. “It is time for us to focus our efforts on improving the quality of our surface water.”

The bill, House File 2400, creates a Water Resources Coordinating Council within the Governor’s Office to preserve and protect Iowa’s water resources and coordinate efforts. It will also complete a statewide water plan focused on water assessments and prioritization.

The Surface Water Protection Act calls for 56 regional watershed assessments and smaller community based watershed improvement and monitoring plans. Funding would begin in fiscal year 2010 and the task force estimated about $13.5 million per year would be needed after a five year phase-in period.

The bill now moves to the Senate.