Water quality bills introduced

February 23, 2017

The Iowa House and Senate have introduced and moved out of subcommittee different versions of a comprehensive water quality plan that addresses water quality funding and Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy. ABI has an environmental legislative priority addressing water quality, among other topics. ABI has worked to advance its members’ interests in water quality to include industry as part of the water quality solution and to promote a targeted, accountable approach to water quality funding.

The House water quality bill, HSB 135, creates a targeted grant program and a state level revolving loan fund as well as encourages a nutrient credit exchange. Industry has been included in both the grant program and state level revolving loan fund, which puts industry at the table to collaborate for nutrient reduction required by Iowa’s nutrient reduction strategy for point sources and the overall goals of the strategy for non-point sources. The bill appropriates $232 million over 13 years in funding from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund (RIIF) for non-point sources to do edge of field and infield nutrient reduction practices, and converts an existing sales tax on water to an excise tax and directs it to the point-source water quality funding framework in the bill. The bill also includes the ability for soil and water conservation districts to fund soil erosion control, water resource restoration projects, watershed protection or improvement projects, and projects addressing the nutrient reduction strategy.

The Senate bill, SSB 1034,is the bill agreed to last year by Gov. Terry Branstad and the House. It includes a grant program for disadvantaged community infrastructure and a revolving loan fund. Industry point sources were not included in the legislation and neither does this year’s Senate bill.

The bills will have to go through several committees before reaching the floor. ABI is currently seeking feedback on these bills. Staff contact: Jessica Harder, jharder@iowaabi.org.