Water quality reports budget

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The budget was a big topic at the 2017 legislative report on the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says legislators were interested in knowing what a watershed project looks like and how they staff enough people.

The Department of Agriculture got $9.6 million for the next five years of projects, $3.6 million of that was in cost shares.

Northey says they shared with legislators the projects that were going on and they responded favorably, "A lot of support for the effort that farmers and landowners whether city or country are doing out in the countrysides. Some of the projects that are out there and just good support for that. I think it would lead toward some conversation about what does funding for the future in the water quality effort look like."

The report says there are 151,000 acres of cover crops in the cost share program now.

But judging what's going on in the 70,000 miles of streams in the state is a challenging task. Northey says knowing what nutrient reduction projects are going on lets them know what kind of an impact they're making.

Northey says, "We have a big state and it's a challenge to make a difference all at once, we can't everywhere, but we are seeing the kind of progress that will make a difference over time and we're seeing increasing engagement in the water quality effort."

Measuring water quality progress will take take time, money, and expansion. At the end of the report. Northey asked for $9.6 million in the 2018 budget and reiterated support for a legislative proposal that would provide $500 million through 2029 for water quality efforts.