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State launches $466-million campaign to solve water quality problems
After struggling to address water pollution problems for decades, Iowa is about to launch a $455 million campaign to solve some of its worst water quality problems, the Des Moines Register reported.
One of the biggest goals is to improve sewage treatment and septic systems in 500 towns and rural subdivisions that don’t have any.
"We should do a pretty good job of getting to the worst of it," said Charles Corell, the water chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The Iowa Legislature approved much of the funding last month as part of a bond package pushed by Gov. Chet Culver, and other funding came from flood recovery efforts.
Funds for lake restorations will more than quadruple, the newspaper reported.
"It's a huge boost," said kayaker John Wenck of Des Moines. "I see it as very exciting. It opens up all kinds of doors to reinvest in our rivers."
The funding will also set in motion work that will continue over the next decade.
"You essentially have untreated or under-treated sewage getting into waterways," said Corell, who visited Truesdale and Greenville to discuss proposed sewer projects. "And it's all the time, not just when it rains."
Much of the funding will be distributed after communities submit applications, so the exact list of projects is still unknown.
A summary, from the Des Moines Register, of the new funding available in Iowa is below:
• $260 million from the state's revolving loan program for sewage projects;
• $55 million in new grants for sewage treatment plants, which will buy down some of the loans;
• $53 million from the federal stimulus bill;
• $15.8 million for soil conservation, watershed improvement and other farm programs that help water quality;
• $13.5 million for wetlands and other water-quality restoration projects;
• $12.8 million in state lake restoration money, $10 million more than usual;
• $11.5 million for repair of conservation practices such as levees and terraces;
• $10 million a year, for three years, on river improvements related to tourism and recreation;
• $7 million for soil and water conservation projects through the agriculture department;
• $5 million for local watershed improvement projects and watershed planning through the Watershed Improvement Review Board;
• $3 million for water quality monitoring;
• $2.6 million for watershed protection under agriculture department programs;
• $1.5 million for conservation under Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program;
• $1.5 million for the Conservation Reserve projects;
• $1.3 million for the new Iowa Flood Center;
• $800,000 for Iowa water trails development and low-head dam inspections; and
• $500,000 for Carter Lake restoration.