An official with the Natural Resources Conservation Services says there’s been no "collusion" with developers of a lake near Osceola. Marty Adkins, the N-R-C-S assistant state conservationist for water resources, says two Republican legislators are wrong to suggest his agency is helping lake developers skirt a new state law which forbids governments from condemning land for a lake unless the lake is solely for drinking water.
"The planning procedures that we currently use for surface water supplies were put in place in 2006 to conform to current Iowa standards," Adkins says. The lake project has been in the works for a while and original plans did evaluate the lake’s role as both drinking water source and recreational facility, but Adkins says those plans were changed when the state law went into effect.
"We’ve looked at and evaluated a lot of different lake sizes and sites over the past 16 years," Adkins says. "Just to clarify that, 16 years ago there was a reconnaissance study looking at a lot different lake sites and then over the past several years we’ve been doing more detailed planning." The N-R-C-S has been working with the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association, the City of Osceola, the Osceola Water Board and the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.
Adkins says his agency isn’t pushing any agenda. "Our job is to identify options that are feasible — technically, ecologically and economically feasible," Adkins says. Republican Representative Jeff Kaufmann of Hiawatha this week charged that the federal agency Adkins represents is working behind the scenes to skirt the state’s new property rights law in hopes of building a bigger lake near Osceola so it can be used for both drinking water and recreation.