DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), and Iowa State University (ISU) published the 2018-2019 Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy Annual Progress Report at the end of June. The report, published significantly later than previous years’ reports, provides data on nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient levels in Iowa’s waterways and implementation of nutrient reduction efforts. It aims to publicize the effectiveness of nutrient mitigation resulting from voluntary non-point source agricultural conservation tactics, in addition to point source requirements.
After years of requests, the NRS report finally included nitrogen load export data on page 35. This information is crucial to understanding the effectiveness of the State’s efforts to reduce nutrient export. In our March comments, IEC urged the NRS reporters to compare the nitrogen export data to the 1980-96 baseline. This comparison is necessary to assess progress toward the 45% nutrient reduction goal. NRS authors responded that the process to conduct an accurate comparison using emerging data sources is still being developed. However, the nitrogen export data was considered valid enough to be included in the report. We are asking that it simply be compared to the baseline data.
This comparison shows that not only is Iowa failing to achieve a 45% reduction in nitrogen load with a 41% reduction coming from non-point sources, but it is moving alarmingly in the opposite direction with a 34.3% increase in nitrogen export.
The importance of the NRS report is ensuring the state’s strategy adequately addresses nutrient pollution and provides solutions to minimize Iowa’s contribution to the Gulf crisis. With abundant time and significant taxpayer money invested in cost-share programs, Iowans have the right to hold reasonable expectations for the effectiveness of the state’s approach to nutrient reduction. So far, the state is not upholding its end of the bargain. IEC stands by its additional comments that were not addressed in the final report.
— Iowa Environmental Council
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