Government

Gov. Reynolds signs Iowa water quality funding bill, her first bill signing

Law provides $282 million over 12 years; critics say it's not enough

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (center) signs a water quality funding bill, her first piece of legislation, on Wednesday as Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and other state officials watch. The bill provides $282 million over 12 years for water quality projects — a priority Reynolds set out in her Condition of the State address in January. (Iowa Governor’s Office photo)
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (center) signs a water quality funding bill, her first piece of legislation, on Wednesday as Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg and other state officials watch. The bill provides $282 million over 12 years for water quality projects — a priority Reynolds set out in her Condition of the State address in January. (Iowa Governor’s Office photo)
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DES MOINES — Programs designed to clean Iowa’s waterways will get a state funding boost under a new law that Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Wednesday, her first bill as governor.

“I’m really excited. We’ve been working on this a long time,” Reynolds said after signing the bill in the governor’s formal office at the Iowa Capitol.

Her signature on the bill completed a challenge she laid out three weeks ago in her first Condition of the State address

The new law will produce for water quality projects an estimated $270.2 million over the next 11 years, according to the state’s nonpartisan data agency. There will be $4 million in new funding in the state budget year that begins July 1, $8 million the following year and then from $27.3 million to $30.2 million annually through June 2029, according to the agency.

The funds will support projects designed to filter nutrient pollutants out of Iowa waterways and to decrease soil erosion and pollutant runoff into waterways.

“This legislation is a significant boost as we continue our work on this important issue,” Bill Northey, the state’s agriculture secretary, said in a statement. “We are excited to build on the strong foundation that has been established as we expand our collaborative, science-based efforts to achieve the water quality goals we all share.”

Critics of the legislation say it does not provide adequate funding — an Iowa State University report says the state’s water quality issues require $4 billion — and does not provide any methods to measure the funded programs’ effectiveness.

State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, called the legislation “a facade.”

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Reynolds and other statehouse Republicans have said the legislation is not the end of the state’s effort to encourage and fund water quality programs.

“I’m really proud of it. I think it is a significant step forward,” Reynolds said. “And we look forward to continuing the conversation. It’s a really important issue.”

Iowa is one of 10 states that is contributing harmful nutrient pollutants that are flowing through the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico, killing marine life there.

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