CCI members say Governor Branstad and Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp have failed everyday Iowans and must now reverse course on failed de-regulation and “voluntary compliance” strategies
The list of polluted waters in the state of Iowa has grown from 606 in 2010 to 628 in 2012, according to new data released by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and analyzed by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) members.
“The total number of impaired waters in Iowa’s 2012 Integrated Report is 628, with 482 Section 303(d) waters [Category 5: impaired and TMDL needed] and 146 waters in Category 4 [impaired but TMDL not required],” reads a new Clean Water Act draft report prepared by John Olson, a DNR Senior Environmental Specialist.
The DNR will present the findings to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) at their monthly meeting on January 15 in the Henry A. Wallace Building west of the state capitol. That same day, the EPC will also consider a “hands-off” rule proposed by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry to weaken enforcement options and “ensure compliance within the least restrictive means possible”.
The new numbers mark the largest number of polluted waterways in Iowa since the state began keeping records sixteen years ago. In 2008, there were 542 polluted rivers, lakes, and streams, according to the DNR.
“I want to live in a state with clean water, but the DNR is now scheduled to weaken factory farm enforcement on behalf of a corporate interest group, on the same day they hear new data that our water quality continues to get worse,”
said Lori Nelson of Bayard, the Iowa CCI Board president, who is surrounded by 5,000 corporate hogs within a half mile of her home.
“This kind of irony isn’t funny. Shame on DNR Director Chuck Gipp for letting this happen.”
Iowa CCI members say that the recent water quality findings also puts renewed pressure on Governor Terry Branstad to end his opposition to strong and effective public oversight just days before his 2013 “Condition of the State” address next Tuesday.
“Governor Branstad has spent the last two years trying to de-regulate and defund environmental protections while promoting a failed voluntary compliance approach that benefits the corporate ag industry at the expense of everyday Iowans and the environment,” Nelson continued.
“In the short-term, we need a fully-funded DNR and strong new Clean Water Act rules that ensure operating permits for all of Iowa’s 8,000 factory farms, with a three strikes and you’re out policy for habitual violators. In the long-term, we need local control, stronger permitting standards, and increased separation distances.”
There have been more than 800 documented manure spills since 1995. In 2010, former DNR Director Rich Leopold told a crowd of Scott County CCI members that the real number could be 10 times that high.
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