Governor Kim Reynolds said in her first Condition of the State address that the first bill she expects to sign will be one that addresses water quality in Iowa. It is likely that the bill the governor speaks of will be similar to one of the two competing bills proposed by the Republican leadership during the last session. To most Iowan’s, a bill addressing our poor water quality in the State has been long overdue. Will this be the bill that solves Iowa’s long standing water quality problem? Not according to the Governor “Let me assure you," Reynolds said. "Passage of this monumental legislation does not mean the water quality discussion is over. Rather, it ignites the conversation to implement and scale practices that will continue to make an impact on water quality." This comes as excellent news for those concerned about the issue and for those in rural counties such as Mitchell who have been working to address the problem for years.

Though a few political heavyweight organizations have been downplaying the issue of water quality and successfully fighting to kill any bill directed towards addressing the issue directly for fear that any action at the legislative level might result in regulations, restrictions, or loss of profits to Iowa’s agriculture economy, it is great to see that there is finally a political apatite to do something! Interest groups have maintained a high level of political tension in the state house for years concerning water quality rustling in no action, no bipartisan cooperation and more nutrients in our water.

Many farmers and leaders here in Mitchell County have already recognized the problem, put fears and tensions aside, and found practical solutions that have both benefited our local agriculture operations and water quality. The Rock Creek Water Shed has been dubbed as a poster child for water quality practices in the state. The watershed was chosen and received funding to implement practices such as saturated buffers, bioreactors, wetlands, cover cops, buffer strips and others. Since that time continued water testing data has shown that these practices can be very successful and if implemented properly across the state would reduce our nutrient loads significantly and go a long way toward solving the water quality issue.

The challenge at the state level becomes finding ways to make these practices affordable and get them on the ground sooner than later. The bottom line is it is going to take significant dollars to successfully address the issue; it will be interesting to see how this will be accomplished in a year where talks of tax reform loom over a large budget deficit.

If you are interested to learn more about water quality practices going on in Mitchell County or how they can be implemented into your operation please join us at the Milton R. Owen Nature Center for any of the following meetings sponsored by the Mitchell County Soil and Water Conservation District featuring experts from the NRCS the Iowa Soybean Association and ISU.

The following are the dates, times and topics of those meetings – Tuesday, Jan. 30, 9 a.m., Soil Health; Tuesday, Feb. 13, 9 a.m., Cover Crops; Thursday, March 1, 5 p.m., Conservation Forum; and Thursday, March 15, 9 a.m., Conservation Tillage.

Please contact Tracy Church @ 641-732-5504 or email Tracy.Church@IA.NACDNET.NET if you have questions. Please RSVP if you plan to attend so she can get an accurate meal count.