We are now over one week into the condensed legislative session for 2020. The RIIF – Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund Bill (HF 2642) passed out of House Committee yesterday. It includes the following appropriations for FY 2021:
Water Quality Initiative- $5.2M
DNR Lake Restoration & Water Quality- $8M
Dam Mitigation & Water Trails- $250,000
The $250,000 for Dam Mitigation and Water Trails is only HALF of the current 2020 funding. This morning the Senate suggested ZERO dollars for the program.
We are asking legislators for the same amount of money appropriated this fiscal year – $500,000. Please email or phone your State House and Senate legislators today to ask for the same! Below is an example email listing reasons why this program needs level funding.
SUBJECT LINE: Level Funding for RIIF Program – Dam Mitigation and Water Trails
Hello Representative/Senator [Last Name],
To start, on behalf of myself and my family, thank you for your service during this time of COVID-19. I hope you and your family are staying healthy. I am emailing as your constituent to ask for level funding of $500,000 for the Iowa DNR’s Dam Mitigation and Water Trails program in the RIIF budget. Currently, the proposed allocation for this program is $250,000 in House File 2642.
Unfortunately, the allocation in the bill only appropriates half of the requested funding for Fiscal Year 2021, and the bulk of the monies will go to support staff time as opposed to providing grants to communities for projects that support rural economies and improve safety. Currently, a low-head dam removal project in Steamboat Rock will reduce flooding, enhance quality of life, and provide increased opportunities for recreation and camping in Hardin County. Citizens and the Mayor are excited about the impact this project will have on the community, but it can only move forward with funding through this program! This is just one example of the many cities and towns throughout the state that will benefit from sustained level funding for dam mitigation and water trails.
In addition to removing dangerous and deadly low-head dams, this program also supports getting more Iowans out on the water, which is especially important now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Being out in or along the waterways positively impacts people’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Iowa needs more opportunities for its citizens to safely engage with nature, and this funding helps achieve that goal.
We understand funds are limited, however, these funds are critical to expanding economic development opportunities across the state. I appreciate your consideration of this request. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. I look forward to your response.