Stream Buffer Rule = Cleaner Water, Little Cost
Iowa's Low Hanging Fruit: Conclusion
EWG’s assessment of streamside buffers in this five-county sample shows that enacting and implementing a streamside buffer standard would be a simple but very effective way to make significant progress toward meeting the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. A streamside buffer standard would put Iowa on course to finally clean up its far too dirty rivers and streams.
Moreover, a streamside buffer standard would require converting a vanishingly small number of acres to grass strips in the counties assessed. Individual landowners’ investment of land would be very small as well. The vast majority of landowners wouldn’t be affected at all.
Enacting a streamside buffer standard poses the most important policy issue facing Iowans who are tired of dirty water – what is fair to expect landowners to do at their own cost as part of the responsibilities that come with ownership.
If Iowa is serious about cleaning up its water, a streamside buffer standard of at least 50 feet would be an excellent place to start. Even in the absence of state action, Iowa counties could take the initiative to protect their waterways on their own (see below).