A new initiative to improve Iowa’s water quality was introduced in the Iowa House today, called the Surface Water Protection Act. The bill is the result of a two-year watershed planning task force.

“Over 20 years ago, the Legislature created the Groundwater Protection Act to improve the quality of our ground water and we’ve had great success stopping contamination of our groundwater. It is time for us to focus our efforts and improve the quality of our surface water,” said
State Representative Donovan Olson, D-Boone, who chairs the House Environmental Protection Committee and also served on the watershed task force.

“Iowa needs a coordinated effort to clean up our surface water and
improve water quality,” said Deb Ryun of the Conservation Districts of
Iowa, who co-chaired the Watershed Quality Planning Task Force. “We
aren’t going to make progress until we assess each watershed and get all
of the stakeholders in each watershed to work together.”

The Surface Water Protection Act will be introduced in the Iowa House on
Monday. It 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.

“We know Iowans want clean water and want to be good stewards of our
environment,” added State Senator David Johnson, R-Ocheyedan, who served
on the watershed task force. “While it won’t happen overnight, it’s time
for us to develop a coordinated, long-term strategy that will improve
water quality for every Iowan.”

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.