Gov. Kim Reynolds has signed Senate File 512, a bill that builds on efforts to address water quality challenges across the state of Iowa. The new law is estimated to generate more than $280 million over the next 12 years for water quality projects by creating a funding stream from a mix of existing state revenue sources. Opponents of the new law noted the absence of new sources of money for water quality and a lack of monitoring measures. An analysis of the bill is available at https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/FN/917568.pdf.

The issue is a priority of Governor Reynolds, who emphasized “We’ve built a wide range of partnerships comprised of diverse stakeholders who share a common goal of improving water quality and creating new economic opportunities. These partnerships are a great way to grow vital funding resources and support our coordinated efforts between the public and private sectors to scale proven practices.”

The Iowa Catholic Conference supports the efforts of state leaders to address the challenge of improving water quality across the state. As faithful Catholics, we understand our obligation as stewards of the gracious gift of the earth’s material resources. Water is unique because every other resource uses it or depends on it for its survival. We are dependent on water, literally, for daily life, and to provide for the most basic needs.

The protection and conservation of water resources is even more critical because not only is it essential to life, it is, like every physical resource, limited. Less than one percent of the Earth’s water is accessible and available for human and animal consumption.

At every level in the economy – whether public or private, as businesses or as individuals – how we use water resources reflects the respect we have for its contribution to the common good. Every person has an obligation to consider their stake in preserving that common good by their action, whether as consumer or producer of the goods and services supplied to our communities.

Proper stewardship means the promise that all can be cared for will be met. Wasting and abusing the resource of an abundant and clean water supply, withdraws that promise and places lives, particularly of the vulnerable, and livelihoods, at risk.

Public policy should reflect that water is a precious, shared commodity, for which we are all grateful, responsible stewards.