The task of improving Iowa’s water mostly falls on farmers and ranchers. But a new report highlights what urban wetlands can do to improve the state’s water quality. The amount of pollution municipalities put into the state’s rivers and streams are regulated.
The Iowa Policy Project report documents additional measures cities and homeowners can take to reduce polluted storm runoff. Arthur Bettis is a co-author of the report. “It improves the situation within their limits, they get a good improvement in the quality of their waters, streams in the area, and the biodiversity,” Bettis says.
Elizabeth Maas also co-authored the report. She says it offers a “how-to” guide for developers interested in implementing urban wetlands. “When cities start to employ them and citizens begin to see they can be useful and functional, then citizens begin think to themselves, ‘gee, maybe I can put one of those in my own yard,'” Maas said.
But David Osterberg, founding director of the Iowa Policy Project, noted these practices are just another instance where urban populations are cleaning up for rural areas. “If every one of the 1.2 million homes in Iowa actually had a quarter acre lot, which of course they don’t, that would hardly be anything compared to 24 million acres of soybeans and corn. That’s where the problem is coming from,” Osterberg said.
The report states urban wetlands range in cost from $15,000 to $40,000 an acre.