Iowa Nutrient Lawsuit Dismissed; IL Still has 2025 N & P Reduction Goals
Last week a federal judge in the Northern District of Iowa dismissed the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three Iowa drainage districts; the DMWW has sought remedy through the courts for the regulation of water from agricultural drainage, specifically nitrogen levels in the water.
This is very welcome news. The lawsuit, had it prevailed, would have set the stage for potential regulation of drainage tile as a point source of pollution, possibly leading to permit regulations for tile drainage. A sigh of relief is in order, but we should follow that breath of relief with the realization that reducing nutrient losses remains a high priority. State nutrient reduction strategies are in place and are not linked to the lawsuit; in Illinois our Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy calls for a 15% reduction in nitrogen losses and a 25% reduction in phosphorus losses by 2025; these reductions will be measured against the 2011 levels of N and P that existed in Illinois rivers at that time.
The good news is that we are making progress toward this goal but it will continue to require us to be innovative with nutrient management and other practices to reduce nutrient losses. In Illinois we have a very collaborative approach with agriculture, environmental groups, water officials and state agencies in this effort and it is not divisive--it is proactive and productive. The IFCA Keep it 4R Crop Program and 4R Code of Practice focuses on voluntary nutrient practices that increase nutrient utilization, thus reducing the likelihood of nutrient loss. Please stay committed to the 4Rs and reducing nutrient losses and let's meet our 2025 goals without the shadow or threat of litigation or regulations hanging over us. Keeping nutrients for the crop, and out of the water and air, is good for agriculture and good for society as a whole.