Letter: Education is key to water quality success

I am chairman of the Hewitt Creek Watershed, the first of its kind Iowa farmer-led watershed.

Hewitt Creek Watershed started in 2005 with help of baseline funding from Iowa Farm Bureau, and it took seven years to see consistent results from the conservation efforts farmers put in place. We have seen a decrease of 10,054 tons of sediment, and decrease of 12,881 pounds of phosphorous in the creek annually. We know we have improved water quality through scientific testing, and by the increased wildlife that has returned to the area.

The Nutrient Reduction Strategy started three and a half years ago and advances have been made in new conservation practices and research. However, it will take 7 to 10 years to see true progress on a scale the size of Iowa.

The success of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy is dependent upon showing progress and educating the public and other farmers around our state on nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment movement. As farmers adopt new practices and share their experiences with others, I believe a majority of producers will make decisions that are best for the environment and the success of their operation.

Water quality and soil conservation are a priority for all, including farmers. It is critical we continue to show progress through a collaborative, scientific approach. This is why education is so important not only for farmers, but for the general public so they understand this will not happen overnight, but it will take several years of consistent work from all of us.

Jeffrey Pape



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