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Question 1: How to Protect Iowa’s Liquid Assets

October 26, 2010

DES MOINES, Iowa - A campaign is underway not only to get Iowans to the polls on Election Day, but to be sure they turn the ballot over after selecting candidates, so they can mark a decision on "Question 1." That's the proposed "Iowa's Water and Land Legacy Amendment," to set up a dedicated trust fund for voluntary clean-up projects.

The Iowa Environmental Council is promoting the "turn the ballot over" message. The group's leader, Marian Gelb, says it's been well documented that the state's water quality has been declining, whether that means loss of top soil degrading waterways, or shrinking natural wetlands flood protection.

"A recent report indicated 53 percent of the water bodies in Iowa rank 'poor,' with 500 impaired waterways, which means they're really polluted."

The Department of Natural Resources has found the number of "poor" quality waters has doubled in ten years. Gelb points out that years of stakeholder meetings and legislative approval were involved in crafting the amendment, and the Iowa Farm Bureau was at those meetings, although the group has recently launched a campaign against the amendment.

"We had bipartisan, 90 percent of the legislators supported this initiative, to put this amendment on the ballot."

Gelb says the amendment does not increase the sales tax, as has been misunderstood. Money would flow into the fund when and if the Iowa Legislature ever increases the sales tax. Then a small percentage of that increase would be dedicated to voluntary clean-up projects.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - IA