A coalition of Iowa conservation groups is threatening to sue the state, claiming it has failed to enforce the Clean Water Act, leaving many lakes, rivers and streams polluted.
A 2002 survey put 205 Iowa lakes, rivers and streams on its list of impaired waterways. A new report is expected this month.
Better monitoring in recent years has made Iowa's impaired waterways list more accurate, but more needs to be done. One of the first steps is to bring Iowa's regulations in line with the Clean Water Act, but legislators have balked at updating the regulations.
Gov. Tom Vilsack has said if the state doesn't take action, the federal government will.
He believes the success of the cleanup depends on the support of key agriculture groups.
In January 2004, the governor set an ambitious goal of cleaning up Iowa's waterways by 2010. As the year progressed, however, lawmakers failed to earmark any additional money for monitoring or cleanup, due to the tight budget.
Rick Robinson, an environmental policy adviser with the Iowa Farm Bureau, said farmers have helped to improve the quality of Iowa's waters over the past 20 years through buffer strips and wetlands that filter pollution before it reaches rivers and streams.
He said the best way to ensure continued progress is by providing incentives for farm conservation programs.