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Saving Iowa’s Lifeblood: Water

raccoon river   courtesy of
raccoon river courtesy of
October 18, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - This year marks the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. Clean water is critical not only to every Iowan but to the state's wildlife and economy.

To help emphasize how important clean water is to Iowa, The Environmental Law and Policy Center is launching a website to tell the story. Howard Learner, the center's president, says the Des Moines River runs right through downtown Des Moines, and the city has invested a lot of money in river walkways.

"If you are going to have walking along the river, and hiking and jogging and moms pushing strollers and kids on bicycles, you sure want a river that people look at and say, 'That's a clean river'."

He says the Clean Water Act doesn't apply to farm runoff, which is one of the reasons the Des Moines River looks so murky.

"We need to have effective strategies to both incentivize and require farmers and other landowners to look at low-till no-till techniques, to look at ways – buffer strips and otherwise – of reducing the amount of nitrates and phosphorus that they allow to run off of their agricultural fields."

A new website,, features the stories of those who have struggled to keep Iowa's water clean for fishing, swimming and drinking.

More information is online at

Richard Alan, Public News Service - IA