The head of the Iowa Environmental Council is asking the governor to double the amount of time for Iowans to review and comment on a water quality plan unveiled on Monday. Iowa Environmental Council executive director Ralph Rosenberg says the 45 day period is “just too short” — plus it covers holidays like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s.
“It just is not going to give an opportunity for the general public, for interested citizens, for researchers or people in the university, for farmers, for people in the entire state to be able to comment on it,” Rosenberg says.
Staff from two state agencies and Iowa State University researchers spent the past two years developing the water quality plan, soliciting input from the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and the Iowa League of Cities. Rosenberg suggests that was a flawed approach.
“The process leaves something to be desired,” Rosenberg says. “If I was going to create a major nutrient reduction strategy, the process should be inclusive rather than exclusive.”
According to Rosenberg, the document “needs to be strengthened” to achieve the goal of reducing nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into Iowa waterways and, ultimately, shrink the so-called “dead zone” way downstream in the Gulf of Mexico. But Rosenberg isn’t yet ready to discuss what improvements the Iowa Environmental Council will recommend to the plan.
“I need to go through it with a fine-toothed comb,” Rosenberg says.
The Iowa Environmental Council will provide comments “in a rush” according to Rosenberg, who guesses his group will release its analysis of the plan in late November or early December.