Devastating flooding in many areas of Iowa is causing widespread pollution from industrial agriculture and adds to our long-term problem with water quality. We have more than 750 waterways polluted with nitrates and phosphorus and subject to cyanobacteria blooms.
Toxic blue-green algae thrive on the phosphorus and nitrate fertilizer runoff. As a result, Iowa is a major contributor to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, and has many state beach closings and water supplies with dangerously high nitrate levels.
Our state’s solution is the “voluntary” Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The plan contains practices that farmers and landowners can implement to cut down on runoff, soil loss and lessen the amount of nitrate and phosphorus entering state waters. However, the unfortunate truth is this strategy is not working because there is little participation. At present, enrollment rate it would take 100 years to clean up our waters using voluntary measures alone.
For all these reasons and more, we support the lawsuit filed by Iowa CCI and Food and Water Watch. Voluntary participation is not working, and our Legislature has failed to act on our worsening water quality. Corporate ag and those who profit from it will want to say this is a fight between rural and urban, but the truth is everyone has a right to clean water.
We need a moratorium of large-scale livestock operations until a mandatory nutrient-reduction plan is in place. This may be the only way we finally realize a cleanup that the state promises but never delivers.
Rosemary and D.G. Partridge Wall Lake