Iowa’s clean water remains a goal 50 years after the Clean Water Act

DES MOINES, Iowa (WHO) – The Clean Water Act was passed on October 18, 1973. At that time, many cities in the United States were still dumping raw sewage and other things into rivers. The Clean Water Act has been credited with making waterways cleaner and holding polluters accountable.

This law targeted point source pollution. When you could tell where a chemical came from, sometimes it was a pipe. What the law did not address was non-point source pollution such as runoff from cities and agricultural fields.

“I know we’ve done a very good job of regulating point source pollution, we need to find a way to control non-point source pollution because it contributes so much to the degradation of our waters,” said David Cwiertny, an expert. of the environment. Engineer from the University of Iowa. “What I would say, we need to understand how the Clean Water Act has loopholes that could allow us to monitor, we need to figure out how to close those loopholes to better protect our waters.”

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has worked to establish voluntary practices to help mitigate nitrate runoff from agricultural fields. One of these ways is for farmers to use cover crops and buffer zones. But Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig said it was important the measures were put in place voluntarily.

“When you start dictating practices from Des Moines or from Washington DC, what instantly takes away is the creativity and innovation of the Iowa farmer, or the community, to be able to solve these problems locally “, said Naig. “What we’re trying to do is provide the resources for the technical support, the financial assistance, what to think about it, how to integrate the practices into the landscape in a way that they last for generations.”

Cwiertny and Naig agree that Iowa farmers are innovative. And both also agree, more farmers and more acres need to be involved in ways to curb runoff into drinking water.

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