"Gov. Terry Branstad and state lawmakers are working to put the state agriculture department in charge of key water-quality programs, a move critics fear will undercut the state's ongoing struggle to clean waterways choked with silt, algae and worse.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's mission is to promote farming, the source of the state's No. 1 water problem, which is silt runoff, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, charged specifically with protecting the health of Iowa's environment and its residents, figures to lose some of its already limited power to do something about one of Iowa's top environmental issues.
It's far from a simple bureaucratic question. It is a political power struggle that has played out nationally as farm groups try to fight off regulations that would clamp down on farm runoff.
The debate affects what Iowans pay to drink clean tap water, how attractive the state is to residents and vacationers, and how successful their fishing trips are. It's well-documented that the state has serious water quality problems. The debate is how best to fight them."