Environment position cut upsets Ikes

Letter to the Editor

The Austin Izaak Walton League and residents of Mower County should be and are deeply disappointed with the Mower County commissioners’ decision to eliminate the position of county environmentalist held by Bill Buckley for the past 37 years. This position enforced illegal dumping of sewage into our waterways. Estimates are that 10 percent of rural septics don’t work at all, and on average each household dumps 1,000 gallons a day of sewage into ditches and waterways.

What makes their decision even more troubling is that it puts in jeopardy $100,000 over a three-year period for funding from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment — something county residents voted 68 percent approval for. Commissioners will rely on private contracting to enforce septic laws which is an experiment at best and shows no commitment toward solving the issue. Even more troubling is the commissioners’ lack of a vision. The future is bright for the many benefits that our rivers and trails bring to Mower County. The Cedar River Watershed District’s two main goals are to improve water quality and reduce flooding.

Legislation in 2011 designated the Cedar River as a State River Trail. The Austin City Council’s decision to annex the Woodhaven addition stops tens of thousand of gallons of sewage from flowing into the river. Many outdoor groups support land purchases to improve habitat, native areas and wetlands. The message is clear: Let’s all work together to accomplish goals that will make Mower County an even better area to live, work, visit, raise a family, start a business.

The county environmentalist position was almost all funded by clean water grants and fees for new septic systems. Science is important when addressing water issues and Mower County needs to protect our valuable water resources. Mr. Buckley has a degree in chemistry and is a member of the Izaak Walton League. His passion for clean water and knowledge will be deeply missed by all Mower County residents.

Jim Stiles, President

Austin Izaak Walton League

Mower County

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