Letter to the Editor: Submitted by Karen Carlton

To the Editor:

When dairy farmers want to know if they are feeding the optimal rations, they will monitor the amount of milk any one cow is producing. If adjustments are needed, obviously they would make them.

If a person goes to the doctor with an illness, the doctor will want to monitor whether the medicine given was working or not and make necessary adjustments. When a businessperson wants to check if they’re on the right track to grow their business, they will look at the data and trends.

Protecting and growing one’s resources requires monitoring and accurate information. Ignoring facts and data won’t fix any problems.

This is why I am really puzzled as to why the Iowa House and Senate Republicans decided to defund the water quality sensors around the state. These sensors provided 24/7 monitoring of many creeks and rivers.

When I looked at a 2022 state map of the waterways in Allamakee County, the only creeks which do not show some type of water impairment are Village Creek and its feeders, Wexford Creek, Cota Creek, Paint Creek and Little Paint Creek. The rest of our county creeks and rivers show impairment. Impairments include E. coli, water clarity issues, fish kills, algae and pH, as well as nutrient pollution.

According to a 2022 state report from some 70 sensors placed in rivers and creeks across the state, 54% of Iowa’s waterways are impaired. The Nutrient Reduction Strategy hasn’t worked in reducing nutrient run-off in Iowa. We’re still sending too many nutrients down to the Gulf Coast.

The $500,000 amount used to fund this monitoring isn’t much out of an $8.5 billion dollar state budget.  So, instead of doing the hard work of figuring out what will work to clean up our water and be equitable to all, our Republican senators and representatives in Des Moines decided that it would be better to just cut off the source of bad news by quitting the monitoring. Polk County has figured out some rather low-tech solutions to help remove nutrients from their waters, so a couple of answers are right under the Capitol’s nose.  Too many Republican heads in the sand in Des Moines.

As we know in our county, we are especially vulnerable to ground water contamination. Porous limestone just soaks up the water and whatever’s in it. I recall several years ago floating into Spook Cave with the guide. There were blue streaks on the stalactites and the guide mentioned that the color was due to farm nutrients which had soaked in from above ground.

I am curious just how many farmers and others using wells have had those wells checked for nutrient pollution. Isn’t that something worth monitoring?

Let your state senator and representatives know you’re unhappy with the cuts made to water monitoring in our state. Super-majority Republicans need to own this problem, not ignore it.

Iowa Democrats support sensors and solutions so people can swim, wade and fish, and animals can safely drink this water. Cleaning out water pollution of all types from our drinking water, rivers and creeks must be a top priority, not something to blithely ignore or dismiss.

Karen Carlton