Water is life! That’s why we need the Clean Water Act. Today, we celebrate its 45th birthday by continuing the fight for full enforcement.

Did you know that factory farms — one of biggest sources of Iowa’s water crisis — avoided regulations under the Clean Water Act for years?

That’s why, 10 years ago, CCI members, EIP, and Sierra Club filed a petition with the EPA, bringing attention to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ reluctance to implement the CWA for factory farms. Because of your hard work, the EPA & Iowa’s DNR is committed to a 5 year workplan to get into compliance, including to inspect all 10,000+ factory farms in Iowa (but DNR says this doesn’t include the 5,000 “unknowns” they just found),

Next fall, the 5 year deadline is up. How do you think they’re doing?

We’ve watched the DNR dig in their heels to ensure that factory farms can continue business as usual — profitting off polluting our waters. The EPA’s findings this year will bring exciting updates to this important fight for clean water for everyone — not just the people who can afford it.

Iowa’s water is in crisis, and nothing will change unless we act to fix it. Stay in the know on this fight — make sure you’re on our email list, and pitch in $5, $10, or $15 to continue the work.


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.

 

A a new Statehouse bill (HF 316) would dismantle the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) board and distribute the utility’s assets to surrounding cities – which would kill the DMWW’s lawsuit.

But here’s the kicker: We’ve heard Des Moines City Council supports the bill and even helped draft it. They turned their backs on their own constituents and caved to corporate ag interests.

TAKE ACTION: 

  • ADD YOUR NAME – to show strong opposition to this bad move
  • RSVP NOW for Thursday 2/23 – an emergency community meeting with Bill Stowe and DMWW Board President Graham Gillette. 

HF 316 is another anti-local control, anti-local democracy measure designed to silence fearless truth-tellers like Bill Stowe and quell the growing citizen demand to crack down on corporate ag and factory farm polluters.

We’ve seen what happens to our water when elected officials side with corporate interests instead of everyday people — it looks like Flint, Michigan.

But CCI members aren’t ones to stand by and just let things happen. RSVP to join us here.

What:     Emergency CCI Clean Water organizing meeting with

                  Bill Stowe and DMWW President Graham Gillette

When:    Thursday, February 23 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Where:   Iowa CCI Headquarters, 2001 Forest Ave, Des Moines

 

Join us Thursday to learn more – RSVP here.

 

This bill is an obvious Farm Bureau power grab.  We’re hearing lots of excuses about why we should compromise and support this bill.  Here’s how you can respond.

Don’t Dismantle the Des Moines Water Works Talking Points

 About the bill, HF 316:

  • HF 316 would dismantle the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) board and distribute the utility’s assets and power to surrounding cities – which would kill the DMWW’s lawsuit.
  • HF 316 is another anti-local control, anti-local democracy measure designed to silence fearless truth-tellers like Bill Stowe and quell the growing citizen demand to crack down on corporate ag and factory farm polluters.
  • This bill is purely a retribution bill. They are trying to shut down a meaningful attempt to hold corporate ag polluters accountable under the Clean Water Act.
  • A corporate ag shill, Rep Jarad Klein from Keota (not DES MOINES), introduced this bill and is trying to call the shots for Des Moines residents. Klein has taken over $20,000 from corporate ag groups in recent years.
  • Four lobbyists, hired by the city of Des Moines, also represent the Iowa Drainage District Association. The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit directly  ties in with the drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun, and Sac counties where this lawsuit stemmed from.

 

Des Moines City Council demands and talking points:

  • 4 members of the Des Moines City Council support the bill. Shame on City Council members that support this Farm Bureau power grab over their own constituents. There has never been a public vote on this issue.
  • We’ve heard Des Moines’s own City Councilor Christine Hensley – on the board of Farm Bureau’s front group “Partnership for Clean Water” – is colluding with Big Ag to push and draft this bill. That ain’t right.
  • Withdraw your support.  We want to know which of you are siding with corporate ag.

 

Clean Water talking points:

  • Iowa has 754 impaired waterways in 2014 – up 15% from 2012. And, Des Moines Water Works had to run it denitrification machine 177 days in 2015.
  • Iowa has over 9,000 factory farms that produce 22 billion gallons of manure.
  • We need mandatory regulations, not voluntary. The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit seeks mandatory regulations through the Clean Water Act.
  • We’ve seen what happens to our water when elected officials side with corporate interests instead of everyday people — it looks like Flint, Michigan.

Take Action

  • ADD YOUR NAME – to show strong opposition to this bad move
  • RSVP NOW for Thursday 2/23 – an emergency community meeting with Bill Stowe and DMWW Board President Graham Gillette.

Join the Clean Water 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.

LIKE & SHARE for a clean water Iowa: 

Water pollution and manure spill data show that efforts to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act (CWA) for factory farms are failing to clean up Iowa’s waterways or hold the factory farm industry accountable.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted its 3-year progress report for the precedent-setting Work Plan Agreement between the DNR and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on August 1, explaining what it has done to date to better implement the CWA for Iowa’s thousands of factory farms.

DNR continues to boast that it is successfully meeting the benchmarks required in the EPA/DNR Workplan, yet Iowa’s polluted waterways continue to grow.

Click here to view DNR’s 2016 Clean Water Act Annual Progress Report.

“Iowa is in a water crisis.  We have a record number of polluted waterways, closed beaches, toxic algae blooms, and cities and towns threatening to violate safe drinking water standards, all while DNR fails to hold this polluting industry accountable,” said Brenda Brink, CCI member from Huxley.

“Iowa already produces and spreads 22 billion gallons of untreated liquid manure on our land every year.  This industry is out of control and it’s time we regulate them or issue an immediate moratorium until there are fewer than 100 polluted waterways in Iowa,” said Brink.

The DNR/EPA Work Plan Agreement followed an EPA investigation report that found DNR was not effectively inspecting factory farms, failing to issue CWA permits to polluting operations, and taking inadequate enforcement actions that do not deter further illegal pollution. The Work Plan requires DNR to improve on all fronts.

After three years, DNR has assessed thousands of facilities for unpermitted pollution and has updated its permitting rules. But despite showing progress on paper, the number of polluted waterways in the state continues to grow, there have been 67 manure spills into waterways since 2012, and DNR has yet to issue a single CWA permit to a hog confinement that has illegally discharged. Instead of issuing permits, DNR is allowing violators to choose to “permanently remedy” the cause of their violation without getting a permit. The loophole has undermined the entire Work Plan process and called the quality of DNR’s inspections into question.

“Any factory farm that has a discharge needs to be held accountable through a Clean Water Act permit, not just a slap on the wrist.” said Barb Kalbach, 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.

The report also reveals that in the course of conducting the Work Plan’s required state-wide CAFO inventory, DNR has discovered more than 5,000 animal feeding operations—not accounted for in the Plan—that it will need to assess for unpermitted discharges to Iowa waterways. It plans to postpone these evaluations until after the Work Plan is concluded.

“Three years into the five-year Work Plan, DNR is just learning of thousands of facilities that may be contributing to the state’s widespread water pollution,” said Tarah Heinzen, Staff Attorney with Food & Water Watch. “If DNR is incapable of truly bringing the program into compliance within five years, we will expect EPA to take a more active role.”

Public records obtained by CCI further indicate that DNR is allowing some of the few factory farms with permits to “cancel” permit coverage, without so much as a DNR inspection of the facility to confirm it is no longer discharging first.

Public records also show DNR is changing its factory farm spill data entry practices to avoid public scrutiny, particularly from Iowa CCI.  The statement was located under the ‘Data Entry in HIS or FOCD for Manure Releases/Spills’ section of the FOIA, saying “Generally do not enter as an incoming report in FOCD (database) as that flags it for ICCI.”

“This Work Plan will only be successful if it leads to real oversight of factory farm pollution in Iowa. That means serious inspections, strong permits, and enforcement actions that ensure it doesn’t pay to pollute. DNR hasn’t shown that it takes permitting and enforcement seriously, and EPA should step in and conduct independent investigations of Iowa manure spills,” said Jess Mazour, Farm & Environment Organizer at Iowa CCI.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly 22 billion gallons of toxic manure every year.  There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 725 polluted waterways. Water data collected from Iowa’s 2014 list of impaired waterways shows manure as a leading cause of impaired waterways in Iowa lakes and rivers.

Iowa CCI is a statewide, grassroots people’s action group that uses community organizing to win public policy that puts communities before corporations and people before profits, politics, and polluters.

For more information, visit www.iowacci.org.

Strengthen the Factory Farm Rules – Part 1

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reviews factory farm rules only once every five years. Now is our chance to strengthen the rules. Iowa is in a water crisis because voluntary compliance isn’t working. It’s time to close factory farm loopholes in order to protect People and Planet!

Why do we want a stronger rule? Factory farms produce 22 billion gallons of manure every year in Iowa and that manure is polluting our water. This is an opportunity to hold factory farms accountable and help us achieve a clean water Iowa IF it is strengthened.

Take action to hold factory farms accountable for their water pollution here!  

We have several demands to make this rule stronger, and below, we lay out two of them.

 

22 billion gallons of manure: who’s responsible, where does it go?

We hear two questions about the factory farm industry often:

Where do the billions of gallons of manure go?

Who really owns these factory farms?

Sac County - all fields & watersheds
Map of factory farms and manure fields in Sac County created by Iowa CCI’s Manure Mapping Team.

But, the exact answers to those questions are not public knowledge. Last year, we discovered why they absolutely must be.

A team of Iowa CCI members mapped and audited over 200 factory farm Manure Management Plans – a plan factory farms must submit to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources indicating what they plan to do with the manure they produce.

The DNR attempted to brush what we found under the rug: incorrect application rates (how much manure is applied to the fields), double-dumping, and more.

Iowa has too much manure to handle and one way we can prove that is by having access to manure application records – not just the plans. That is one of our demands from the DNR’s consideration of the factory farm rule: we need access to those records.

One of our other demands is being able to access the names of factory farm stakeholders – who is actually involved in these projects?

Most factory farms in Iowa are “contract growers”, meaning the local person owns the building and the manure but a big ag corporation owns the hogs – like Cargill, Iowa Select, Maschoff, etc.  But, the corporate contract company’s name and contact information are not required to be included in all Manure Management Plans.

We’re asking the DNR to strengthen the factory farm rule by including the corporation’s name and contact information in the Manure Management Plan.

These are two of our demands for Iowa DNR to strengthen the rules for Iowa’s 9,000 factory farms. We have 11 total demands to deliver to the DNR.

Click here to take action and tell the DNR that we need more transparency of manure records and who’s actually running the show out in rural Iowa!

We need 1,000 comments by June – let’s do this!

 

 

IOWA’S “MANURE SPILL SEASON”

IN FULL FORCE

 

 

Iowans Demand EPA Return To Iowa To Force Factory Farm Compliance With The Clean Water Act

 

 

According to DNR records there have been at least five factory farm spills that reached Iowa waterways in the past three weeks:

  • FISH KILL: Osceola & Clay County – factory farm egg washing liquid dumped in Stony Creek polluting 18.2 miles of stream and killing 163,001 fish
  • FISH KILL: Cherokee County – Bear Creek, source unknown
  • FISH KILL: Buchanan County – factory farm manure overflowed from manure pit and entered West Branch Pine Creek
  • Mahaska County – valve on manure tank failed and 3,000 gallons of factory farm manure entered a tributary of the Skunk River
  • FISH KILL: Allamakee County – manure application equipment broke and 1,000 gallons of factory farm manure entered Clark Creek

 

 

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) members are outraged at the number of manure spills occurring in Iowa each year during what many call “manure spill season.”

“Right now, as crops are being harvested, thousands of factory farms across the state are starting to spread upwards of 10 billion gallons of toxic, untreated manure on Iowa farmland,” said Rosie Partridge, conservationist and small business owner in Wall Lake, Iowa. “We’re seeing equipment breaks, pits overflow, and careless practices like spreading manure on highly erodible land, on steep slopes and near waterways.  At what point is there too much manure in Iowa?  I think we passed that point a long time ago.”

CCI members say the DNR needs to start holding this industry accountable for polluting Iowa’s waterways.

“In 2012 the EPA investigated the DNR and found that the DNR has an inadequate inspection program, fails to respond to spills, and does not issue fines and penalties that deter future pollution,” said Larry Ginter, a retired family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa. “It’s 2015 and nothing has changed. The EPA needs to come back to Iowa and make the DNR implement the Clean Water Act with teeth.”

Like the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit, CCI members want the DNR to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act for factory farms. CCI members believe that Clean Water Act permits, tough fines and penalties and on-site inspections that find and fix problems will drastically reduce the amount of manure polluting Iowa’s waterways each year.

“We’re sick and tired of corporate agriculture being exempt from any laws and regulations meant to protect people and the environment; they should be held to the same standards as every other industry in Iowa,” said Ginter. “Isn’t it obvious that voluntary doesn’t work?”

CCI members will be meeting with the DNR on November 3 to address the lack of enforcement and regulation of Manure Management Plans and application.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year. There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 725 polluted waterways.

 

Join the Fight

  • Factory farm proposing to build near you? Have concerns about an existing facility? We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air and water and your quality of life.

Learn more

 

 

DNR/EPA CLEAN WATER ACT WORKPLAN AGREEMENT FAILS TO PREVENT MANURE SPILLS

2 Years Since Historic Clean Water Act Agreement And Still No Permits For Hog Factory Farms

 

Des Moines, IA.  In early August Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted its 2-year progress report of the precedent-setting Work Plan Agreement between the DNR and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement the Clean Water Act (CWA) for factory farms in Iowa. Iowa CCI is calling out the DNR for the lack of detail in the report about the outcome of DNR inspections and why no Clean Water Act permits have been issued.

Click here to view DNR’s 2015 Clean Water Act Annual Progress Report.

“This is an absolute disgrace.  We’ve been saying for 8 years that the DNR is failing to do its job to hold factory farms accountable for their pollution and sadly we’re proven right,” said Larry Ginter, CCI member and family farmer from Rhodes, Iowa.  “We’ve already had at least 17 manure spills this year.  If DNR was completing good inspections, you’d think the number of manure spills would go down significantly each year, but it doesn’t.”

The DNR agreed to assess twenty percent of Iowa’s 8,500+ factory farm facilities each year to determine which operations need permits.  The 2-year progress report states they have completed 41% over the past two years.

The DNR touts the number of inspections as a success but CCI members think otherwise.

“It’s not just about the quantity of inspections – it’s about the quality of inspections,”  said Ginter.  “Who cares how many you’ve completed if they don’t result in anything but more pollution?”

The Work Plan also required the DNR to “timely issue [Clean Water Act] permits that meet federal requirements to all CAFOs that DNR determines discharge to Waters of the U.S.”

According to DNR records, since the Work Plan was signed on September 11, 2013 there have been at least 99 documented manure spills in Iowa yet the DNR failed to issue a single Clean Water Act permit to any of the polluting hog factory farms.

Barb Lynch, DNR Chief of Field Services and Compliance was quoted saying ‘Since the majority of larger facilities in Iowa are confinements, with animals housed under a roof and state law requiring manure containment, most facilities we inspect do not have problems with manure runoff’.

However, water data collected from Iowa’s 2014 list of impaired waterways shows manure as one of the leading cause of impaired waterways in Iowa lakes and rivers.  CCI members say this and the fact the DNR has issued no CWA permits shows how the DNR continues to work for factory farm corporations by misleading the public about the cause of Iowa’s polluted waterways and not holding them accountable for the pollution they create.

Also, CWA permits aren’t just targeted at runoff problems, they are for any kind of pollution discharge leaving a facility.

“We see dozens of cases of factory farms with multiple manure spills,” said Barb Kalbach, 4th generation family farmer from Dexter.  “Any factory farm that has a discharge needs a CWA permit and needs to be held accountable, not just a slap on the wrist.”

Another demand of the DNR to meet the Clean Water Act Work Plan is “to implement enforcement program that ensures penalties are sought in accordance with DNR’s [Enforcement Management System] and creates a stronger deterrent to noncompliance”.

In the past 2 years, DNR has only issued 23 Administrative Orders and 1 Attorney General referral against factory farm polluters with manure spills or other violations.  That means out of the 99 polluters, 75 of them received no meaningful penalty for their manure spill.  CCI members believe that the lack of penalties sends a message to the industry that manure spills are just a cost of doing business.

DNR is also failing to meet the final Work Plan requirement, which is to keep the public informed of its Work Plan progress.  So far the Work Plan progress updates have been vague and contain very little real information. The annual report lacks detail about the outcome of inspections and why no Clean Water Act permits have been issued to a hog factory farm.

“The 2-year report lacks detail,” said Kalbach. “DNR provided no detail on the outcome of assessments and how they determined that a factory farm does not need a CWA permit. The DNR needs to take a presumption that every factory farm has a potential to discharge and therefore every factory farm has the duty to apply for a permit.”

“This Work Plan will only be successful if it leads to real oversight of factory farm pollution in Iowa. That means serious inspections, strong permits, and enforcement actions that ensure it doesn’t pay to pollute. DNR hasn’t shown that it takes permitting seriously, and EPA should step in and conduct independent investigations of Iowa manure spills,” said Jess Mazour, Farm & Environment Organizer at Iowa CCI.

CCI members are calling on the DNR to strengthen the Clean Water Act implementation with four demands:

  1. Issue a Clean Water Act Permit to every factory farm in Iowa.
  2. Complete quality on-site inspections that find problems and fix problems.
  3. Issue tough fines and penalties that deter future pollution.
  4. Create a transparent database of manure spills, inspections and details of specific factory farms.

Iowa’s more than 20 million hogs confined in thousands of factory farms produce nearly ten billion gallons of toxic manure every year.  There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1996 and Iowa currently has more than 725 polluted waterways.