Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Caitlin Shanahan and Tom Ten Eyck recently received first prize in the 2013 American Planning Association Iowa Chapter Student Poster Contest.  The poster was originally created for their Analytic Methods II class and included work done by other group members:  Adnya Sarasmita, Xiaomei Xu, and Lu Liu. It represents their study on water quality and economic development issues in a five-county region comprised of Cherokee, O’Brien, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury Counties in northwest Iowa.

Despite documentation of extensive impairment of the area’s waterways, agriculture, which covers over 90% of the land in this region, is exempt from regulation under the Clean Water Act. What can local policymakers do to improve regional water quality in the absence of Federal requirements? Their policy recommendations were geared toward diversifying the local economy, enhancing environmental quality, and maintaining population and economic stability.

They conducted a brief regional economic analysis and population projection, plus GIS analyses of regional land cover, sources of pollution, listed and impaired waterways, and potential for renewable energy in the region, which helped them formulate policy recommendations.

"Our policies acknowledge that in this northwest five-county region of Iowa, employment is intimately tied to agriculture. As such, our policies are aimed at instituting best-practices for current farmers, while simultaneously encouraging renewable energy industries that coincide with the geographic assets of the region.

    1. Tax incentives for 35-foot riparian buffers in agriculture zones
    2. Tax credits for wind farms on open lands
    3. Tax credit for crop rotation practices
    4. County-level regulations on animal feeding operation and leaking underground storage tanks
    5. Encourage diversity of industry types through both financial and political channels"

Caitlin and Tom received a prize of $500 and were presented with an award during a luncheon on Thursday, October 17th at the American Planning Association Iowa Chapter Annual Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.