The Five Island Lake Board has continuing discussions on water quality, so it was with interest that we read about Iowa Soybean Association’s Water Quality Open House. Community leaders, elected officials and area residents shared their views on water quality. Here’s what they had to say:
Water quality is exciting.
“I’m excited about water quality. I just want to do what’s right for the soil. I’m going to try to get my students excited about water quality. We’re a farming community and I have a lot of farm boys in my 8th grade class. This is something that would be really interesting to them.” – Margaret Hogan, science teacher, Beckman Catholic High School
We need to find the right tone.
“I find that it’s important that we find the right tone throughout the state in talking about water quality because there are many concerns on all sides of this issue. I think the correct decisions and correct procedure will rise to the top with a balance and good respect for both the environment and keeping agriculture strong throughout the state of Iowa. This was a good opportunity to talk to farmers who actually put these conservation practices into place on their farms. It’s good to know the nuts and bolts and know the actual practices that are being put in place to protect all Iowans.” – State Representative Dan Kelly, House District 29
People are interested.
“I think there is an interest in what farmers are doing. It’s important to remind our urban friends that farmers are doing things to improve water quality. I think the interchange and being able to talk one on one is valuable.” – Tim Smith, farmer
]The Iowa way.
“It’s important as we look at production agriculture, what is the impact on natural resources and are we being good stewards. Water quality is an important part of that and it’s important to all of us, whether you’re in the urban areas or rural areas, to work together and continue to look at those issues. I think the most important thing is making sure you get all the various players at the table and try to find that common ground and common ground solutions. Really that’s the Iowa way.” – Jay Byers, CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership
Not so easy-peasy.
“The fact is you have to have nitrogen to grow crops. Solving Iowa’s water quality problems is not as simple as reducing nitrogen or not applying nitrogen, especially with a growing population. It’s really not as simple as most people think and that’s what makes it the most difficult problem to solve.” – Logan Putz, student at Iowa State University
There is diversity in water issues across the state.
“With these water quality issues up my way, I really want to make sure that I understand, when I go out and talk to people, exactly what is going on and I know that the ISA is extremely involved in that. It was really interesting to see the differences in issues across the state. Just looking at that map tells you volumes about what’s going on and why.” – State Representative Helen Miller, House Dist. 9
In agriculture we trust.
“As farmers we like to complain that consumers and our constituents don’t understand us. Having this open house tells people in the neighborhood and really all of Iowa what we’re doing at the ISA and that we do care about the environment. I think the right message to share with consumers is that we are being proactive. It’s important to share what is possible in agriculture but also that there are challenges. Nothing is certain in agriculture.” – Ray Gaesser, farmer
By golly, I’m going to try it.
“We didn’t just start this last year. We, the ACWA and ISA have been at this for a good number of years. Now, where we need to go from here is a much broader understanding from urban and rural counterparts as well as a broader adoption of these things that we know can and will work. That’s why something like this [Water Quality Open House] is so important: so people have an understanding of what can be done and then hopefully there’s some folks here that go home and say, ‘Yeah, I’m a farmer. I’m a producer. I haven’t done this yet but by golly, I’m going to learn more and I’m going to try it.'” – Harry Ahrenholtz, chairman of Agriculture Clean Water Alliance
Practices are scaling up.
“I think it’s very important to inform the general public on the various efforts that are occurring that will help improve the state’s water quality. We have a number of conservation practices we will be scaling up that have made good progress to date but we recognize that’s really an incomplete picture and we have a lot further to go. I’m looking forward to talking about the complexities of water quality challenges we face in Iowa. It’s taken a century and a half of ag impacts in water quality to get here and we’re not going to solve it overnight but we’re taking important steps.” – Sean McMahon, executive director, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance