The Iowa Environmental Council is calling for updating the system for measuring pollution in Iowa waterways.
The state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy program uses models to estimate the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in Iowa’s water. Iowa Environmental Council water program director Ingrid Gronstal says a lack of in-stream sensors makes it difficult to accurately assess water quality.
“The public needs to know what their tax dollars are going toward and whether that money is being spent wisely,” Gronstal says. “So, are we actually getting a water quality benefit out of that?”
According to an Iowa Environmental Council report, the State of Iowa has spent $100 million since 2013 on water quality projects, but a lack of real-time water measurements means its difficult to determine if the investments are working. Gronstal says the models currently being used to estimate water quality can exclude factors that may impact a waterway like land use changes or extreme weather patterns.
“These are models that were developed close to a decade ago,” she says, “and they didn’t account for climate change effects then, and so certainly not responding to climate change effects now.”
The Iowa Environmental Council is calling for the state to release all of its water quality monitoring information to the public.
(By Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio/O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa)