Who should supervise Iowa's water quality?
April 6, 2011

The Iowa Legislature has been considering a pair of bills this year -- House File 643 and Senate File 500, which would transfer the management of several water-quality monitoring and grant programs from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The bill passed in the Republican-controlled House, but now appears to be stalled in the Senate. The lobbyist declarations on behalf of the bill suggest that farmers' groups are of mixed opinions on the subject, and many environmental-lobby groups are against it. Non-point-source pollution (generally, pollution from runoff) is largely a result of agricultural practices in a farming state like Iowa, which is why moving its management to that department might make sense in order to streamline the management issues and cut bureaucratic wrangling. Opponents argue, though, that the Department of Agriculture serves more as a promotional arm than an enforcement one, and as a result would be less rigorous about enforcing regulations should it come to supervise that segment of the state's environmental quality.

April 2011
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last revised April 2011