Iowa DNR still not enforcing Clean Water Act

One year ago this week, U.S. EPA released a powerful investigative report proving DNR’s factory farm program doesn’t meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, yet nothing has changed

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement members are calling out Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director (DNR) Chuck Gipp for refusing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act against factory farm polluters in Iowa one year after a blistering investigative report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proved the DNR wasn’t doing its job.
The July 13, 2012 EPA Report said DNR:
  • Has failed to issue permits to factory farms when required,
  • Does not have an adequate factory farm inspection program,
  • Frequently fails to act in response to manure spills and other environmental violations,
  • Does not assess adequate fines and penalties when violations occur.
The EPA has drafted a work plan agreement that would bring DNR into compliance, but DNR Director Chuck Gipp is refusing to sign it, presumably under pressure from the Branstad Administration and big ag lobby groups like the Iowa Farm Bureau.


“It’s been a year since this report documented exactly what the problem is and how to solve it, and nothing has changed,” said Lori Nelson, the Iowa CCI Board President from Bayard, Iowa.  Nelson is surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs less than a mile from her rural homestead.  “We need action and we need action now.  It’s time to stop stalling, stop obstructing, and start putting people first.  That means inspections and permits for every factory farm in Iowa.”


Water quality has been in the news frequently this summer after Des Moines Water Works turned on a multi-million dollar nitrate removal system, at a cost to ratepayers of $7,000/day, to handle the unprecedented amount of hog manure and other fertilizers running off of farm fields upstream from Iowa’s capitol city.


The Iowa legislature appropriated an additional $700,000 to the DNR this year to hire more factory farm field staff, but Iowa CCI members say the DNR is still woefully understaffed and that new field inspectors won’t mean much if there’s not a strong work plan agreement between EPA and DNR to guide their work.


Iowa has more than 8,000 factory farms, 628 polluted waterways, and 800 documented manure spills, according to DNR records.


For a detailed analysis of the one-year anniversary of the EPA’s report, click here.
For a visual timeline of Iowa’s failure to enforce the Clean Water Act, click here.

Join the Fight!

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year in the fightback against factory farming. Already, we’ve seen the corporate ag industry push bad bills at the statehouse, setting our state up for another influx of corporate hog manure. We need your help in fighting back, and here are four easy ways you can join the fight: