Iowa has filthy water. This state ranks among the worst in the country for fecal bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. Ingredients used in fertilizers applied to farm fields are among the main source of contaminants. They run off land, speed the death of Iowa waterways and ultimately contribute to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.
Iowa manages to earn mention in nearly every national report about dirty water. The one issued in December by the Government Accountability Office is no exception. It is yet another painful reminder of flawed policies that don’t adequately address so-called nonpoint (runoff/agricultural) pollution.
Runoff from 580 acres of nearby farmland flows into Jasper County’s Mariposa Lake “which is to support designated uses of swimming and aquatic life,” according to the nonpartisan government watchdog agency. While it is known cropland is contributing to the lake’s pollution problem, it is not clear what specific action should be taken to correct problems.
The goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act cannot be met without new regulations that recognize the reality of the agricultural industry today. Congress should revisit the law to address nonpoint source pollution, according to the GAO, because the water is not getting any cleaner, regulating the way we are regulating now.
The “EPA has estimated that at historical funding levels and water body restoration rates, it would take longer than 1,000 years to restore all the water bodies that are now impaired by nonpoint source pollution,” the GAO says.
That’s right, 1,000 years.