Water News

Water Warriors: Water quality is everyone’s responsibility, according to Lehman

If there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that water quality improvement practices are key to solving Iowa’s water problem.

Aaron Lehman, a fifth generation farmer in Polk City, and president of the Iowa Farmers Union, has found using water quality practices on his farm to be extremely beneficial. Aaron and his family operate a small farm where nearly half of the acres are organic, and the remaining are conventional.

Conservation Boosts Iowa's Future Water Quality

Earlier this year, Iowa beefed up its "Nutrient Reduction Strategy" program to improve water quality, and farmers are weighing the costs and social risks of compliance. 

Iowa's water quality is at risk due to runoff from farmland, primarily caused by storms and crop tilling. Those activities send nitrates and other chemicals into Iowa's waterways, which cause downstream problems and a host of health concerns, including potential birth defects, cancers and thyroid problems. 
 

Farmers face risk when adopting new practices to improve water quality

Water quality is a contentious issue across the country. For example, in Iowa, continued high nitrogen, phosphorous, bacteria, and sediment levels in surface waters threaten public health and outdoor recreation. 

In 2012, the state released a strategy to reduce nutrient and sediment loading in surface waters. However, the best plan forward remains uncertain. This lack of clarity leaves farmers feeling frustrated.

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