The state of Iowa will use a $1 million federal grant to clean up the states lakes, rivers and streams. The problems, regulators say, are caused by runoff of nitrogen fertilizer used by farmers.

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Mike Leavitt says the grant will be spent to attack the problem at its source through drainage projects and other methods.

Bob Ehm, an Iowa Department of Agriculture official, says planners hope to reduce nitrates by slowing drainage from farms. Iowa State University, which will get a major share of the grant, will develop a plan to slow down the tile water and to move it into wetlands for natural breakdown of the nitrates.

Some of the money will be used to recruit farmers to share in the costs. The project will focus on Pocahontas and Palo Alto counties.

Craig Lang, president of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, says his group is "sincerely interested in identifying various methods" that protect Iowa water "while also ensuring continued farm productivity and profitability."

Des Moines Register