Iowa group takes a ‘multi-step’ approach to water quality funding

Three bills related to water quality funding are still alive in the Iowa legislature.

Carol Balvanz, policy director for the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), says it remains to be seen whether any of the measures will be passed, especially with projected state revenue shortfalls and shrinking budgets.

In the past, ISA has lobbied for longer-term, sustainable solutions to water quality funding. But Balvanz says current economic realities have caused them to change their approach.

“We have kind of decided that what we really need is to provide a multi-step process in this thing, realizing that there are avenues for funding down the road,” says Balvanz. “They may not come this year, but in the meantime what we really need to put out there is a structure—a sense of this is how the money could be best spent, in the best way—so that the funding will come as it goes down the road.”

ISA is pushing for passage of HF 538, a bill that creates a water quality infrastructure loan fund.  Monies would be used to incentivize collaborative water quality projects by cities, counties, regional watersheds, industries and farmers.

“This does not take away from the traditional cost-share programs. But it does look at how can we access an increasing number of dollars to finance mechanisms and then eventually get down the road to where people are recognizing that, yes, maybe it will take a sales tax increase to make this thing really have the punch it needs to have.”

ISA officials say, regardless of legislative action, they remain focused on the goal of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen loads in Iowa waterways by 45 percent.

AUDIO: Carol Balvanz

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