Please accept my comments into the public record for this plan. As a former member of the Upper Eastern Shore Tributary Team of the CBP, I base all of my comments upon experiences with that program and its failures and successes.
During my residence in Iowa over the last 2.5 years I have noticed numerous land/ water management methods that need improving. Chief among them is the lack of contour plowing in those areas with topography. Also, in an attempt to control weeds, roadside ditches are often burned to remove vegetation that could slow down the passage of water and remove nutrients. Very few farmers practice no-till farming. There is also an excessive use of drainage tiles, thanks to a federally subsidized program. Cattle walk freely among waterways with no attempt to fence them off or add special crosswalks. Hog manure lagoons commonly fail and manure is applied to frozen ground where it can not be decomposed. Septic system drainage fields are too close to waterways, and government inspection programs lack the personnel needed for inspections. Ground water quality is so poor we have to use reverse osmosis to purify our city water. The water treatment center in Des Moines has to remove nitrates from the surface water it pulls from the Des Moines River, to make it meet EPA requirements. The excess nitrates that are removed from the water are dumped back into the river below the intake pipe. The list of violations is much longer, but I am sure that you are familiar with all of theseproblems.
I commend your efforts to tackle the largest watershed in the U.S. The effort is long overdue. I would ask that your use more biological indicators in your evaluation of the waterways improvements. Measuring nutrient content is too dependant upon weather conditions and water quantity. Also, you need more money for carrots for compliance and less for computer modeling of waterways. The cost of that computer modeling can purchase a lot of compliance! In addition I would ask that all COE projects that have not yet started be postponed until the year 2003, when the COE assessment of their projects effects on this programs goals will be complete. I would hate to waste tax payers money tearing down anything they just built, that would be detrimental to your program. I wo uld also like to see more efforts made towards citizen involvement. I see very few references made to them in your plan, and the references as to how they would be involved are vague. Finally, you have not advertised this plan and the public comment period enough. I only discovered it today, and I try to keep up on these issues! I am sure most of our citizens are unaware of it. This could lead to public resentment later on, when the public finally becomes aware of the program.
Overall, it is a good plan, but I know from experience that it is going to be the most controversial issue to hit the Midwest, when they finally see it in action! "Voluntary" will eventually have to turn to "mandatory", otherwise you will never achieve your goal. But "voluntary" has to be first! Please keep me informed of your progress through this E-mail address, or mail me your version of the "Bay Journal", an excellent periodical which you should replicate.Respectfully,