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Agricultural Law Center to co-sponsor water quality meeting

Three Maryland officials will visit Iowa to discuss progress toward clean water goals in the Chesapeake Bay. Lessons learned in that six-state watershed that may be helpful to Iowa will be the topic of a public presentation set for Monday, April 13, sponsored by State Rep. Chuck Isenhart (D-Dubuque) and the Drake Agricultural Law Center.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting will be in Room 213, Cartwright Hall, 2621 Carpenter Ave. on the Drake University campus in Des Moines.

Speakers include: Sarah Lane, Dave Nemazie and Tom Simpson.

Lane is senior faculty research assistant at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, currently assigned to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Simpson is principal at Aqua-Terra Science, having recently retired as president and senior scientist of Water Stewardship, a non-profit organization focused on verified continuous improvement in agricultural water quality.

Nemazie is associate vice-president for external affairs at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

Isenhart is ranking member on the Environmental Protection Committee in the Iowa House of Representatives and serves on the state’s Watershed Planning Advisory Council. Last July, he spent a day at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in Annapolis, learning about the Chesapeake Bay program and touring conservation projects.

“The main takeaway from my sojourn was that both collaboration and accountability in improving water quality are possible when people decide that participation is not optional,” Isenhart said. “Marylanders are not just involved; they are committed.”

“One reason for that is that the Chesapeake Bay is in their own backyard, not 1,000 miles downriver like the Gulf of Mexico is for us. Maryland has been spoiling their own nest, and they know that no white knight is going to ride to the rescue,” Isenhart continued. “I was impressed by their goal-setting, public investment, progress measurement and public reporting. Those are some of the topics we want to address. Maryland has shown that it can be done.”

While in Iowa, the Maryland delegation will speak to the Measures of Success Committee of the Water Resources Coordinating Council, 2 p.m. on April 13 in conference room one of the Wallace Building, 502 East 9th St., Des Moines.

They will also address state legislators at the Capitol, 8 a.m., Tuesday, April 14, in Room 116.

The Measures of Success Committee chaired by John Lawrence of Iowa State University is charged with developing a plan to track the performance of the state “nutrient reduction strategy.”

The plan to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in Iowa waterways by 45 percent was created in 2013 by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Department of Natural Resources, at the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The interim goal set by the Gulf Hypoxia Task Force is a 20 percent reduction by 2025. The multi-state task force is co-chaired by Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.

Topics to be covered in the April 13-14 meetings include:

      1. Development and application of online tools to report Chesapeake Bay restoration progress in Maryland;


      2. The role of universities in advising governments in policy development and tracking nutrient reductions; 3. Creation and use of environmental health report cards;


      4. Development of stream-specific pollution reduction goals and watershed implementation plans;


      5. Defining, estimating the effectiveness of and verifying best management practices;


      6. Approval and tracking of agricultural conservation efforts;


      7. Public-private partnerships to develop and apply innovative water quality improvement methods;


      8. Factors affecting pollution flowing from agricultural lands;


    9. Developing whole farm and watershed strategies to reduce nutrient losses.