A few years back Iowa legislators kept Iowa’s experts in climate, hydrology, public health and other areas busy for months and years putting together reports and recommendations. What has become of those reports and recommendations? Very little.
In a report released today, “Advice Ignored: Climate Change and Iowa Water Quality Policy,” we discuss the connections between climate change and water – both quantity, in the form of flooding, and quality. Events like the 2008 floods, which the Cedar Rapids Gazette and probably others have termed “Iowa’s Katrina,” are becoming more common. Floods struck parts of Iowa again in 2010 and again in 2011, putting people, farmland, and cities at risk.
Groups commissioned by the Iowa Legislature such as the Climate Change Advisory Council, the Climate Change Impacts Committee and the Water Resources Coordinating Council all address some of the steps that can and should be taken to reduce the risks of climate change. Today their work takes up space on bookshelves and on hard drives across the state rather than being put into action to protect Iowans.
Flooding is damaging by itself, but climate change is also likely to create a “perfect storm” whereby Iowa’s already not-so-great water quality will be put at greater risk by more soil erosion and nutrient loss. This loss will result from heavier rainfall, additional pressure to tear up grasslands or wetlands and put marginal lands into production, increasing stress from pests and other factors.
Some legislators are to be commended for being proactive about addressing climate change and improving watershed management. The majority of them, however, seem content to ignore expert advice and wait around for Iowa’s next flood disaster.
Their work is not done. How many more disasters do we need before they get off their hands and stop ignoring advice?
Posted by Will Hoyer, IPP Research Associate
Find the new report by Brian McDonough, Will Hoyer and David Osterberg on the IPP website at this link.