Des Moines Register. June 17, 2021.

Editorial: Please stop watering established grass in central Iowa. Your lawn will be fine

About 90% of Iowa is experiencing extremely dry or drought conditions. River levels are low. We are facing a water shortage. Des Moines Water Works is asking central Iowa residents to scale back lawn watering by 25%.

That’s a small ask. We can all certainly do that. Actually, we can do much more. We should immediately stop all watering of established grass.

Businesses, apartment complexes, nursing homes, churches, universities and individual homeowners should turn off the hoses and irrigation systems.

Go ahead and water new grass that needs moisture to seed, grow and build a root system. But skip the watering of established lawns. Let’s make dormant grass cool. It will be fine for months.

“Most of the turf grasses we grow in Iowa are designed to go dormant, and they can go dormant for 30 to 60 days,” said Adam Thoms, an assistant professor in the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State University who specializes in turf grass.

The worst thing we can do for the health of grass, he said, is bring it in and out of dormancy with sporadic watering.

“People see their lawns start to go brown and they water the yard to make it green again. Then they get a water bill or get tired of dragging out the hose and they stop watering and it goes dormant,” he said. This uses up the carbohydrate, or food, reserves in the plant, basically starving grass.

He also said that, if you feel the need to mow your lawn, raise the mower up to 3.5 inches. “But once you don’t see growth, you don’t need to mow anymore.”

Less mowing sounds good. So does having enough clean drinking water.

Iowans may take our access to water for granted. It has historically been abundant and relatively inexpensive compared with other areas of the country. This luxury has contributed to sprawling green corporate lawns, the installation of water-wasting sprinklers at parks, and the freedom to not think twice about draining and refilling a hot tub.

But we are now in the midst of a drought. There may be more droughts.

“With climate change, I think we have to start thinking more about how we change our habits to protect the tenuous resource of water,” said Graham Gillette, chairman of the Board of Water Works Trustees.

He isn’t watering the lawn at his home. Water Works CEO Ted Corrigan told an editorial writer he isn’t watering his, either.

None of us central Iowans with established lawns should be.

The request to voluntarily reduce lawn watering by one-fourth is stage one of the utility’s water shortage plan. If residents do not comply, we will get to stage two sooner and will be asked to reduce all outdoor water use by 50%.

We don’t want to get to stages three and four, which include prohibiting lawn watering, terminating water service to those who refuse to comply, and rationing.

So please stop watering the grass. It doesn’t need to be green.


Dubuque Telegraph Herald. June 20, 2021.

Editorial: Dubuque County incentives for vaccine might be worth a shot

When City of Dubuque officials contemplated (briefly) in January offering $100 incentives to 750 city employees to encourage them to get vaccinated, the TH Editorial Board and many residents quickly cried foul.

In January, many people were clamoring to get a vaccine and didn’t need any enticement. And spending up to $75,000 of taxpayer money to convince the willing didn’t sound like a good use of taxpayer money.

That was then.

Today, the view on vaccinations looks a little bit different. More than 60% of Dubuque County residents age 12 and older are vaccinated. That’s a solid number, but it’s not enough. Virtually every adult has had an opportunity to get the vaccine by now. The number of people getting shots has slowed dramatically.

The county’s incident management team said this past week that it might let the county’s lease of the former Younkers women’s store at Kennedy Mall expire at the end of the month. The site has served as the county’s COVID-19 vaccine point of distribution since early February, and the pace of walk-ins has dwindled.

Those indicators led Dubuque County supervisors to contemplate whether offering incentives to encourage county residents to get vaccinated might be a good use of the federal relief aid allocated to the county. It’s an idea worth considering.

County Health Department Executive Director Patrice Lambert likes the idea and said the incident management team will develop and present a plan to the county supervisors soon. Supervisors indicated some interest as well.

If incentives might move the needle, so to speak, it’s worth pursuing.

Getting to a higher rate of fully vaccinated citizens and moving toward herd immunity would benefit public health for the county as a whole — which is the chief concern for county officials.

Federal relief money is intended to help government entities recover from the storm of COVID-19. If some of that aid goes toward preventing a relapse among the 40% of the county that isn’t vaccinated, that would be money well spent.

It’s difficult to know whether a financial incentive will entice folks who have thus far refused to get the vaccine to roll up their sleeves.

The good news is that if it doesn’t, little funding will be expended and then the county can move on to other uses for the money. But if it helps increase the numbers markedly, that’s valuable.

As the county, state and nation emerge from the pandemic, most citizens have a new recognition of the importance of public health and having a majority of citizens vaccinated. Getting to that, one way or another, would be a significant milestone.


Fort Dodge Messenger. June 16, 2021.

Editorial: New state program is a win for small meat lockers. State Sen. Green played key role in it

In the United States, the processing of meat that Americans eat every day is dominated by a handful of giant companies. There are lots of small, independent meat processors here in Iowa that do quality work, but they do not enjoy the advantages that the corporate packinghouses have.

The state of Iowa is now giving those small meat lockers some help.

Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed a bill, championed by state Sen. Jesse Green, R-Harcourt, that will give small meat processors some financial help. It will also create a program to professionally train the next generation of meat cutters.

The law establishes a $750,000 fund that will be used to award grants to small meat lockers so they can upgrade their equipment or expand their buildings to increase processing capacity.

The law also directs the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to convene a task force charged with creating a meat cutting curriculum for community colleges, or perhaps, Regents universities. When implemented, that program would train meat cutters that are needed in the workforce today and in the future.

Green worked with state Sen. Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, and state representatives Chad Ingels, R-Randalia, and Phil Thompson, R-Jefferson, to get the bill through the legislature.

We think this law is a win for the little guys.

Its financial component will enable small meat lockers to grow and thrive.

Its educational component will prepare the next generation of professional meat cutters. They are a group of people most of us don’t think much about, but they are vital to our standard of living.

We thank Sen. Green for the work he did to get this measure passed during his very first legislative session.