We have exciting news! Iowa CCI Board President Cherie Mortice put her name in the running to be appointed the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) Board of Trustees.

Cherie has a track record of fighting for Des Moines neighborhoods, DMWW ratepayers, and for clean water across the state.

And, we need a fighter.

Des Moines ratepayers need a strong leader to stand with Bill Stowe and the board — especially as Water Works faces tough decisions on how to deal with Iowa’s clean water crisis, including pollution to our source water caused by corporate ag upstream.

Add your name – support Cherie for the Des Moines Water Works board.

This won’t be easy. DMWW Board members are appointed by Mayor Cownie and subject to approval by the Des Moines City Council — both of which voted to support the legislative corporate-power grab attempt to dismantle DMWW.

We need to make sure Mayor Cownie hears from ratepayers across the city that appointing Cherie to the DMWW Board is one way to make up for that bad decision.

Add your name – tell Mayor Cownie to appoint
Cherie Mortice to the DMWW Board!

Get involved: 

 

April 14, 2017

Today, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released its bi-annual impaired waters report required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report found that out of 1,378 waterbodies tested over half are impaired. The list jumped from 736 impaired waterbodies in 2014 to 750 impaired waterbodies in 2016.

Since the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) was created, Iowa has not seen a reduction in the number of impaired waterbodies. The report demonstrates that Iowa’s NRS is a colossal failure and that the factory farm industry is a major contributor to Iowa’s water pollution crisis.

Iowa’s NRS has a goal of reducing Nitrate and Phosphorus pollution entering the Mississippi River by 45% with no deadline marking success or failure, and farmers are asked to voluntarily implement practices that reduce pollution. But members of Iowa CCI say a voluntary program that doesn’t address the expanding factory farm industry and has no meaningful monitoring, accountability, or enforcement is destined to fail.

In 2012, Iowa had 30,622,700 acres of farmland, but less than 2% of that land had in-field or edge-of-field nutrient management practices, according to the 2015-2016 Annual NRS Report. $112 million was spent in 2015 and $122 million was spent in 2016 to implement the strategy. This shows that investing in a voluntary strategy does not produce results.

“At this rate, we’ll never have water that we can swim in, drink from, or fish in. Voluntary does not work. No industry has ever successfully regulated itself. Big Ag corporations will always put corporate profits and yields above our water quality,” said Barb Kalbach, a CCI member and 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.  “The only way we’ll begin to clean up Iowa’s water is if the legislature passes meaningful, enforceable rules and regulations and make polluters pay the cost.”

The impaired waters report states the top three causes of impairments in Iowa’s rivers and streams are bacteria, biological, and fish kills, which point to factory farm manure as a major polluter in Iowa.

Iowa has over 9,000 factory farms that produce more than 22 billion gallons of manure annually. According to an Iowa Policy Project report, there are only 15.75 FTE inspectors in the state, meaning the factory farm industry operates unregulated in nearly all aspects.

“This industry is out of control. It’s obvious that our legislature is working for the industry because we continue to see false solutions that kick the can down the road using public funds to cleanup corporate ag’s water pollution,” said Kalbach.

CCI members call on the Iowa Legislature and Governor to 1) pass mandatory, meaningful regulations, 2) force Big Ag corporations to pay for the cost of clean-up, and 3) pass a moratorium on new/expanding factory farms in Iowa.

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

April 13, 2017

Last year, CCI members pored through hundreds of Manure Management Plans (MMPs) to expose how the factory farm industry “double dumps,” uses incorrect application rates, and gets away with it because the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) doesn’t adequately enforce MMPs. You can read our findings here.

Now, because of your work, the DNR is beginning the process of putting MMPs online.

Right now, they’re changing administrative rules to transition to this online process. Join us at next week’s Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting to help us deliver comments!

What will online MMPs mean for you? Ideally, these records will be more accessible to everyday Iowans and searchable on the DNR’s website. But, we need to ensure that’s really what will happen.

The proposed rule changes are a baby step in the right direction – they only apply to the short MMP update form – but there are some key things that must be strengthened. DNR should:

  1. Set a timeline for getting all MMPs – not just the 1-pager – online and accessible to the public.
  2. Describe how the new system will work for both operators and everyday Iowans.
  3. Ensure that the same level of transparency will continue under the new system so that counties know when updated MMPs are available.
  4. Require that factory farmers provide a detailed list of each and every change that has been made since the previous MMP – not just a general overview.

Tell the DNR and EPC that we need stronger MMP rules. RSVP here.

What: Tell the DNR and EPC that MMP rules should be strengthened to work for everyday Iowans
When: Tuesday, April 18 at 9:15 AM
Where: Meet at the CCI office for a prep session (2001 Forest Avenue, Des Moines) and then carpool to the EPC meeting (DNR Air Quality Building, 7900 Hickman Road, Windsor Heights)

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Iowans are banding together to stop a new hog factory by Reicks View Farms in Howard County.

At 2,499 head of hogs, the confinement is one hog under the permit threshold, thereby skirting the Master Matrix. The factory farm is proposed on karst terrain in an environmentally fragile area known for sinkholes, and it’s located near the headwaters of a naturally producing trout stream. It is about a mile from an estimated 40 neighbors, century farms, and an Amish community.

This isn’t the first time Reicks View Farms has done this.

In June 2016, the Des Moines Register reported that Reicks View Farms had applied to build a 7,499 hog facility in Allamakee County. However, after intense local opposition, the developer reapplied for a confinement at 2,499 hogs – which prevented county supervisors from reviewing the application. Highlighting that building at the proposed site was ill advised, Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp stated that “if a livestock confinement facility could be built on the proposed site, there is no place in Iowa one could not be built.

Now, the group of concerned citizens in Howard County are organizing to yet again to stop Reicks View Farms from building just one hog under the permit threshold on karst terrain. Residents are aware of sinkholes not shown on DNR’s map, but after being repeatedly asked, DNR has not agreed to revisit the area.

“This land should not have any factory farms on it. Karst terrain is like a sponge,” said Joann Wangen of Cresco, Iowa. “We want to protect our water. The smell of the confinement is going to be bad enough, but we’ll have a crisis if we don’t have our water.”

Help stop Reicks View Farms! Here’s what you can do:

  1. Write a letter to the editor.
    We need tell more people about this fight!
  2. Call Dale and Brady Reicks at (641) 364-7843.
    Ask them to withdraw their application.
  3. Call DNR Director Chuck Gipp at (515) 725-8282.
    Demand that Director Gipp visit the proposed site and meet with the community. He has the power to stop this.

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

April 6, 2017

Iowa CCI members across the state have come together for five community meetings to discuss ways to strengthen the Master Matrix – one of the few tools counties and citizens have to weigh in on factory farm construction. Due to member interest, an additional two community meetings have been scheduled in Ottumwa and Davenport to gather input.

So far, everyday Iowans have identified several key items to address within the Master Matrix, including:

  • greater separation distances,
  • stronger environmental regulations,
  • revisions to the point structure, and
  • requiring all facilities – not just some – to use the Master Matrix.

Illustrating the failings of the Master Matrix, factory farm operators are allowed to skirt permit thresholds in order to avoid additional scrutiny. Last month in Cerro Gordo County, the DNR approved Wharam Creek Poultry’s 98,000 head chicken confinement – just shy of the permit threshold that requires using the Master Matrix. Following approval of the new Simply Essentials chicken processing plant in Charles City, the area has seen nine other chicken factory farm applications that are also just below the permit threshold.

Iowa CCI is looking for more input on the Master Matrix. This will be used to pressure the Department of Natural Resources to make significant and meaningful changes to the Master Matrix, in light of inaction from Iowa’s legislature.

 

Find a community meeting new you!

Saturday, April 8 at 9:30 to 11:00 AM
Le Mars Public Library
46 1st St SW, Le Mars, IA
RSVP here.

Thursday, April 20 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM (NEW)
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities
3707 Eastern Ave, Davenport, IA
RSVP here.

Thursday, May 4 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM (NEW)
St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church
216 N Court St, Ottumwa, IA
RSVP here.

 

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has scheduled a tour of community meetings across the state to gather input from Iowans on how to strengthen the Master Matrix. The first stop on the tour was in Charles City on March 2. Twenty community members from Floyd, Cerro Gordo, Mitchell, and Howard counties attended the meeting to brainstorm how the Master Matrix could better protect their communities and environment from factory farm pollution.

The Master Matrix is one of the few tools counties and citizens have to weigh in on factory farm construction. However, it is far from perfect and doesn’t go far enough in protecting Iowans or the environment from factory farm pollution. Meeting attendees will have the opportunity to learn more and discuss the Master Matrix, as well as provide input on how it should change.

Counties across the state are beginning to take a stand on factory farms. In January, Allamakee and Winneshiek counties passed resolutions calling for a suspension on factory farm construction until the Legislature fixed the Master Matrix. Floyd County passed a similar resolution that called for changes to the Master Matrix. In late 2016, Webster and Pocahontas counties wrote letters to legislators and the Iowa DNR calling for a moratorium and more local control. This shows growing momentum for local control and a moratorium on new and expanding factory farms in Iowa.

Questions? Contact Erica at EricaB@iowacci.org. And check out our calendar to RSVP to these upcoming meetings!

Master Matrix Community Meetings Tour

Wednesday, March 15 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Hotel Greenfield
110 E Iowa St, Greenfield, IA
RSVP

Tuesday, March 21 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Lohrville Public Library
609 2nd Ave, Lohrville, IA
RSVP

Thursday, March 30 at 6:00 to 7:30 PM
Ames Public Library, PEO Room
515 Douglas Ave, Ames, IA
RSVP

Tuesday, April 4 at 6:30 to 8:00 PM
Solon Public Library
320 W Main St, Solon, IA
RSVP

Saturday, April 8 at 9:30 to 11:00 AM
Le Mars Public Library
46 1st St SW, Le Mars, IA
RSVP

Join the Fight!

  • Ready to take action? Contact us to learn how to get actively involved in this fight.
  • Join as an Iowa CCI member
  • Sign up for our email Action List
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.