Kurt Simon

Kurt Simon

State officials, along with commodity group leaders, are touting a $9.5 million USDA grant for water quality efforts that will get $4.75 million worth of matching funds from the state.

Officials say Iowa farmers will invest another $33 million to complete water quality projects. Kurt Simon, the state conservationist, says more than 40 partners are involved.

“This partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors committed to improving water quality in line with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” he says.

That’s the voluntary approach farm groups and state officials announced three years ago in response to concerns about run-off from ag land. Kirk Leeds, the CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, is also a spokesman for the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and he was at Tuesday’s news conference to announce the combined $47.25 million investment in conservation practices on Iowa farms.

“I think it’s a reflection of the progress we’ve made in a very short period of time of rallying people together, even with the distractions that some of us are dealing with, to rally farmers and the communities together to move forward on improving a very important resource in our state, our water,” Leeds said.

The Iowa Soybean Association Research Conference started Tuesday and continues today in Des Moines. This morning at the state capitol, the House Ag Committee will debate Governor Branstad’s plan to divert some school infrastructure money to water quality projects.

The Des Moines Water Works, the state’s largest water utility, has sued officials in three northwest Iowa counties for mismanaging drainage districts, causing the utility to spend millions removing nitrates from the river water used as its drinking water supply.