To the Editor:
A bill in the Iowa House, File 2548 has raised my level of concern regarding water issues in our state and the new voluntary "Nutrient Reduction Strategy Program" that is supposed to clean up Iowa’s rivers. In the 1970’s the Federal Clean Water Act was passed. Its goal was to make our rivers and lakes fishable and swimmable. Iowa is a long way from achieving that goal. From last year’s data the Raccoon River seems to be getting dirtier and more polluted. The Des Moines Water Works is finding it more expensive to clean the water so that it is safe to drink. The proposed bill, Iowa House File 2548 contains language that restricts the public’s right to know how millions of dollars are being spent and the effectiveness of the program. The bill reads in part… "Any information, received, collected, or held under this section is a confidential record and is exempted from public access pursuant to section 466B.49 as enacted by this 2014 act." I believe this language is an attempt by the state’s bureaucracies to cherry pick the information released to the public.
The bill contains passages that work against an open-transparent government by restricting the public’s right to know. Contact your Iowa legislators and encourage them to remove the "shroud of secrecy" around water quality data, especially the data that indicates problems with nitrogen, phosphorus, and bacteria in Iowa’s waterways. If the voluntary "Nutrient Reduction Strategy Program" is working the citizens of Iowa have a right to see all the collected data.
Ray Harden, Perry