The Iowa Policy Project issued a report and news release on Feb. 14 where it claims that Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Invest in Iowa plan provides fewer resources than the voters intended in 2010. The Iowa Chamber Alliance and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities support the governor’s proposal and think it is important for the citizens of Iowa to know that her changes to the formula will have a more dramatic impact to water quality.
Seven percent of the water quality financial assistance fund now includes an initial $12 million annually to address the billions of dollars in water, sewer and stormwater upgrades needed across the state due to aging infrastructure and increased regulation. This amount does not include the other resources to support stormwater and green infrastructure as well.
Water and sewer infrastructure was not included in the original formula passed by the Legislature in 2010. Municipal and industrial sources have faced an estimated $1 billion in compliance costs from changes to water quality standards in 2006 and an additional estimated $1.5 billion in future compliance costs with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. These estimates do not include the additional infrastructure needs for growth and aging facilities.
There is no doubt that when it comes to regulating pollution from point sources, the Clean Water Act has been extremely successful. However, that success comes with a price tag that up until SF512 in 2018, and now this potential formula change with Invest in Iowa, the state provided very few resources to local communities.
The Iowa Policy Project assumes Iowans do not support changes to the formula. We think Iowans would be surprised to learn that municipal point source needs are not addressed already. We also think any claims that the new funding adequately addresses water quality are not truly credible unless point source needs are met.
We appreciate the governor not only laying out a marker to attempt to accomplish multiple goals in one policy proposal but providing resources to local communities to assist in slowing down water and sewer rate increases.
Dustin Miller is executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance and Tim Whipple is general counsel for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities.