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DES MOINES, Iowa — Two Iowa organizations are teaming up to provide a better perspective on the everyday challenges Iowans encounter due to climate change, water pollution and environmental injustice.

The Iowa Environmental Council and Drake Community Press will organize small groups of Iowans from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds in Hamburg, Pacific Junction, Perry, Storm Lake and the Meskwaki Settlement starting this spring. These groups will share their individual experiences with water (i.e. the impacts of recreational and agricultural pollution, the costs of cleaning certain water ways, and how climate change has led to an increase in drought in some areas and flooding in others).

$30,000 in grants were recently awarded to the Iowa Environmental Council through the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and Humanities Iowa for outreach on water quality, climate change and environmental justices. Brian Campbell is the executive director at the Iowa Environmental Council and wants to provide a voice to those who traditionally don’t get a say in what happens in their community. “Environmental burdens impact different communities differently” and “the environmental goods are not always equally shared,” said Campbell.

Climate change has led to more frequent and intense droughts, flooding and severe storm events in Iowa, especially over the past 25 years. For already vulnerable communities (such as those in low-lying areas), more frequent disasters will continue to make recovering more difficult. “Lots of people are having to choose whether to build back or how to build back and what the future looks like and how they can have a safe community if flooding and intense rainfall are in the future,” said Campbell.

Campbell says when it comes to having good policies, protection and funding to help vulnerable communities, it’s important for organizations like the Iowa Environmental Council and lawmakers to work together, but “that process and those decisions shouldn’t happen without really robust input from people in those local communities.”