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Posts Tagged ‘Iowa water quality’

Action Alert: DNR Factory Farm Rules Review

Factory farms poisoning IowaAction Alert from Iowa Citizens for Commuinity Improvement (CCI)

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reviews factory farm rules once every five years. This is our chance to strengthen the rules and hold factory farms accountable!

We need YOU at the DNR hearing in Ainsworth to stand up for a Clean Water Iowa. Our strength is in numbers—in people power.

Register to join us here! 

Here is what you need to know:

When: Tuesday, May 31 at 10 am | Please join us for a prep session at 9:30 am at the location below!

Where: Washington County Conservation Board, Education Center, Marr Park, 2943 Highway 92,  Ainsworth

We would love for you to share your story about why we have to stop factory farms.

We’re fighting for rules that include:

  • Tough regulations to protect our water, air, and communities
  • Accountability by closing corporate factory farm loopholes
  • Transparency of manure application records and from factory farm stakeholders
  • A moratorium on new and expanding factory farms!

We’re in a water crisis because of factory farm manure pollution. Voluntary compliance isn’t working. It’s time to close factory farm loopholes in order to protect People and Planet!

I hope you can join us: register here!

They DUMP it, you DRINK it, we won’t stop ’til they clean it up!

Executive Director

P.S. Can’t join us in-person? Submit your comment online demanding stronger rules to hold factory farms accountable here. We need 1,000 comments by June: help us get there!

We’re currently at 4,72 Facebook followers. Help us get to 5,000 fans!

Dave Loebsack Doing His Job

Rep. Dave Loebsack talks about Iowa’s water quality problem, superdelegates, and more..  Watch the entire half-hour interview with Iowa’s only Democrat in Congress here on IPTV.


Majority of Iowa Waterways Exceed Drinkable Nitrate Limit

Iowa Water Quality Information System

Click on the image to go to

KC McGinnis | May 3, 2016

Data from the Iowa Water Quality Information System (IWQIS) shows that more than half of Iowa’s waterways being recorded currently exceed the nitrate threshold of 10 mg/l, with several outpacing levels from previous years.

Weeks of warm spring temperatures followed by a week of consistent rain throughout the state last week may have contributed to a spike in nitrate in Iowa’s waterways as it was washed out of fields where it had previously been applied in fertilizers, either as part of the planting process or in the form of anhydrous ammonia in the fall. Nitrate is a pollutant that must be removed at water treatment plants before the water can be suitable for drinking, sometimes at great cost to the plants. Excess nitrate can also cause the spread of toxic algae in lakes and ponds and contributes to a lack of oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, causing what’s known as a Dead Zone.

Nitrate levels are well ahead of where they were in previous years by this time. Annual data available through IWQIS shows that the Daily Accumulated Yield (the amount of nitrate per watershed acre) in the North Raccoon River is at a level not reached until late May of 2015 and not until late September of 2014. Similar progress can be seen at the South Fork Iowa River in north central Iowa, where nitrate levels are currently the highest in the state at about double the drinkable limit.

The Iowa Water Quality Information System, developed by the University of Iowa IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, has a wealth of data available to the public on Iowa’s water quality.  Click here to go to their website and view a tutorial on how to use the system.

Bill Stowe, An Iowa Hero

“We are in a water crisis in this state… We have sold our souls to the devil..”


How You Can Help Defeat Branstad’s Corrupt Agenda For Iowa

alec-exposed-in-iowa-14-638It doesn’t have to be a model ALEC bill. Branstad is still facilitating ALEC’s anti-public education, pro-corporation agenda with this plan. To him, Iowa’s terrible water quality is just another perfect opportunity to take money from public education and give it to his friends.

Action Alert From Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI):

Branstad’s $4.7 Billion Blunder

Governor Branstad’s plan to steal funds from schools to support “voluntary” measures should be DOA.

Branstad has released his “signature” plan for water quality, and the idea stinks more than the factory farm manure polluting our rivers!

The Governor – now acknowledging that Iowa is facing a clean water crisis – thinks that voluntary measures will work to clean it up. And to support those voluntary measures he has proposed taking $4.7 billion dollars over the next 30 years out of a voter approves fund that supports school and education infrastructure.

Take action now to stop House File 2382 – corporate ag must pay to clean up their own mess, not us.

We shouldn’t be robbing Peter to pay Paul, especially when it hurts our communities’ schools.

And, we shouldn’t throw tax-payer money at voluntary measures that don’t work. NO industry has voluntarily regulated itself.

We need tough rules and regulations that crack down on factory farm and ag pollution, not public funded measures that let corporate agribusinesses carry on with business as usual.

Take action now for a Clean Water Iowa! Tell your legislator to vote no on Branstad’s bad water plan bill.

Help Iowa CCI Action reach 2,000 fans on Facebook. Click here!

2001 Forest Ave
Des Moines, IA 50311-3229
515-282-0484 .

Ernst Characterizes Environmental Protection Agency As “Unelected Bureaucrats”

joni ernst the perfect Koch investmentThis article make it clear that our U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, has no interest in working to clean up Iowa’s water.  She and her fellow GOP cronies are more worried about power and posturing. Following President Obama’s veto of her proposal to block new federal regulations to protect our drinking water, she said the new rule is “complex, burdensome and overreaching” and  “this rule is not about clean water. Rather, it is about how much authority the federal government and unelected bureaucrats should have to regulate what is done on private land.” 

No Senator Ernst, the rule is in fact about clean water.  And yes, if someone is poisoning the water supply, I want my government to do something about it.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joni Ernst, stymied by a presidential veto, said she would explore other ways to stop a White House rule regulating small bodies of water that she says will hurt Iowa and other states.

Late Tuesday, President Barack Obama vetoed a congressional resolution that Ernst sponsored in the Senate and would have blocked the new federal “waters of the United States” regulations.

Obama told members of Congress the new rule “is critical to our efforts to protect the nation’s waters and keep them clean.” The president said he could not support Ernst’s resolution because it blocks progress and denies businesses and communities “the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water.”

Ernst said the rule is “complex, burdensome and overreaching” and she would look for other ways to scrap it. She did not outline what other options are available.

“We all want clean water — that is not disputable,” Ernst said. “However, this rule is not about clean water. Rather, it is about how much authority the federal government and unelected bureaucrats should have to regulate what is done on private land.”

The Iowa Republican said the rule gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate water on 97 percent of land in Iowa, which could threaten the livelihood of people across the state.

Republicans and farm groups have said the rule gives the government too much power to regulate their land and potentially subject ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds to new oversight. Farmers worry they would have to pay for costly environmental assessments and apply for more permits.

The administration has said the Clean Water Rule is needed to clarify the Clean Water Act by specifying the types of bodies of water regulated by the 1972 measure.

Collin O’Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said a veto was the right decision to protect the nation’s waterways.”Every American who hunts, fishes, swims or kayaks — or who just wants to drink clean water from the tap — will benefit from this rule,” he said.

Progress Iowa On The State Of The State

progress iowa

Once again the folks at Progress Iowa listen to Governor Branstad and find his words do not match reality. Three press releases from Progress Iowa’s Communication Director Monica Biddix shows how the Governor is out of step with Iowans. Three specific areas are highlighted, but the overall thrust of the Governor’s speech is to ignore what the average Iowan is concerned about.

The first area that Branstad falls far short of the expectations of Iowans is his continuing distortion of job numbers under his administration. From the press release:

Progress Iowa Responds to Gov. Branstad’s Distorted Job Figures

““Governor Branstad’s job claims just don’t add up. He wants us to believe two minus one equals two by refusing to count any jobs that are lost, and Iowans aren’t buying it. We deserve to hear the truth from our Governor, not political distortions meant to cover up a failed campaign promise.”.”

To validate this statement the press release cited the Des Moines Register in December took the Branstad Administration to task (as have many news organizations in Iowa) for the distortion:

As reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Branstad crowed, “We hit that mark last week,” and then asked Townsend to back up the PowerPoint slide to again show the evidence that, just in the nick of time, he had met his deadline for creating 200,000 new jobs.

Here’s the thing: The net increase in jobs since January 2011 is actually about 101,700.
(emphasis added)

The second area that Progress Iowa takes issue with the Governor on is his idea to take money from a sales tax earmarked for schools to address the severe water quality problem in Iowa.

Progress Iowa Responds to Gov. Branstad’s False Choice Between Quality Water and Quality Education

Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to Governor Branstad’s proposal to divert funding from Iowa schools:

“Governor Branstad just doesn’t get it. Iowans deserve quality water and quality education, and our state budget should reflect that. After vetoing bipartisan legislation last year that would have added $55.7 million for K-12 education, he’s now attempting to divert funds specifically earmarked for education, and today refused to follow state law by pursuing funding for next year. Iowans deserve better than being presented with this false choice by their Governor. By undercutting both clean water and Iowa schools, the Governor proved today he doesn’t truly value either.”

Finally, Progress Iowa took note that the Governor once again seemed to pretend that middle class or poverty issues did not exist in the state:

Branstad Ignores Middle Class in Condition of the State Address

Branstad refuses to say the words ‘middle class’ during condition of the state address for the second year in a row

Des Moines, Iowa — Governor Branstad failed to mention Iowa’s middle class during his Condition of the State address for the second year in a row. Today Branstad outlined his priorities for the upcoming year and legislative session.

Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s remarks, which also failed to mention poverty or our state’s stagnant minimum wage:

“For the second year in a row, Governor Branstad failed to even mention the words ‘middle class’ during his condition of the state address. The Governor also failed to mention poverty, or bring up the minimum wage, despite the fact that Iowa’s low-wage workers have been waiting longer than any in the country for a raise.”

“Perhaps he failed to mention the middle class because his agenda is an attack on Iowa’s middle class. By shortchanging our schools, outsourcing the health care of 560,000 Iowans by privatizing Medicaid, and refusing to pursue an increase in our state’s minimum wage, he is leaving the middle class and those in poverty behind.”

“Iowans know that the foundation of our economy and our state’s success is a strong and growing middle class. The Governor’s priorities in his address today were completely out of step with everyday Iowa values.”

Iowa needs to retire this governor once and for all in 2018. He needs to be replaced with a person who is in touch with everyday Iowans and in touch with reality.

Iowa Has A Water Problem

Iowa Row Crops

Iowa Row Crops

DES MOINES—”We have a water problem,” Mayor Frank Cownie said at the state convention of the League of Women Voters of Iowa on Saturday.

Like all municipalities, the Des Moines Water Works must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency standards for maximum contaminant level in water processed and sent into its system. Peak nitrate levels in source waters have taxed the city’s ability to meet its obligations.

The problem is nitrates in the water, however, the bigger problem for Des Moines is nitrate discharge into drainage districts in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac Counties which feed its source.

“The current denitrification technology is outdated and cannot continue to operate with rising nitrate levels and increased customer demand.” according to the Des Moines Water Works. “Continued high nitrate concentrations will require future capital investments of $76-183 million to remove the pollutant and provide safe drinking water to a growing central Iowa.”

Nitrate runoff is an unrecognized environmental cost of farm operations. The lawsuit filed in the case asserts that the drainage districts named are point sources of nitrate runoff and should be regulated as such.

There is a lot of chatter about the lawsuit the Des Moines Water Works filed to establish a cost to people who use nitrogen fertilizer that contributes to water pollution. Here is their rationale from their website:

  • Des Moines Water Works filed a complaint in Federal District Court – Northern District of Iowa, Western Division, on March 16, 2015.
  • The complaint seeks to declare the named drainage districts are “point sources,” not exempt from regulation, and are required to have a permit under federal and Iowa law.
  • The complaint states that the drainage districts have violated and continue to be in violation of the Clean Water Act and Chapter 455B, Code of Iowa, and demands the drainage districts take all necessary actions, including ceasing all discharges of nitrate that are not authorized by an National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
  • In addition, damages are demanded to Des Moines Waters to compensate for the harm caused by the drainage districts unlawful discharge of nitrate, assess civil penalties, and award litigation costs and reasonable attorney fees to Des Moines Water Works as authorized by law.
  • Des Moines Water Works’ mission is to provide safe, abundant and affordable water to our customers. Des Moines Water Works is fighting for the protection of customers’ right to safe drinking water. Through this legal process, Des Moines Water Works hopes to reduce long-term health risks and unsustainable economic costs to provide safe drinking water to our customers, via permit and regulation of drainage districts as pollutant sources.
  • Continued insistence from state leaders that the voluntary approach of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is working does not give solace to the 500,000 central Iowans who must now pay to remove pollution from their drinking water.

While this lawsuit is specific to Des Moines, there are a lot of unrecognized environmental costs in diverse business operations. Set all the partisan chatter about this issue aside and the fact remains there is a tangible cost, that someone should pay. It is a cost measured in risks to human health, environmental degradation and inadequate financial models in business.

Thanks to the Des Moines Water Works, we can begin to put a dollar figure to it.

Water Summit March 21st

Water quality is one of the most important environmental issues facing Iowa today. But understanding the many different issues and aspects involved in it can be difficult.

Quad Citians have a rare opportunity to learn more and have their questions answered at the March 21st Water Summit: An Environmental Event Focusing on Iowa’s Water Quality. Hosted by Davenport SCENE, the event will be held in the Davenport West High School Auditorium, 1 – 3 p.m., and is free to the public.

A panel of five experts from the agricultural community, local and state government, and private business has been selected to lead the discussion and answer questions. All five are intimately involved in issues dealing with water quality across the state of Iowa.

Attendees to the event will increase their understanding of water issues, and learn how Iowans can respond to improve and protect our water quality.

The panelists include:

Sean McMahon, Executive Director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA). The IAWA is a nonprofit organization committed to advancing the success of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy by increasing farmer awareness of the initiative and their adoption of science-based practices proven to have quantifiable environmental benefits. It was created and is funded by the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and Iowa Pork Producers Association.

As executive director, McMahon works to champion farmer adoption and engagement in conservation and production practices for continuous improvement of nutrient management and water quality.

Randy Moore, President, Iowa American Water Company and Member of the EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC). Iowa American Water is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing water services to approximately 195,000 people. In his role, Moore works to strengthen customer, regulatory and local government relationships, drives operational and financial results and is the principal external contact for American Water in Iowa.

NDWAC provides practical and independent advice to the U.S. EPA on matters and policies related to drinking water, including regulations and guidance required by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The council may also propose actions to encourage cooperation and communication on drinking water quality among the EPA and other governmental agencies, interested groups, the public and technical associations and organizations.

Dr. Mary Skopec, Senior Research Scientist for the Water Monitoring and Assessment Section (WMAS) at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources/Geological Survey Bureau (GSB) and Coordinator of the IOWATER Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program. At the GSB, she has worked on a variety of water quality projects including the development of a statewide database to track pesticide occurrences in Iowa’s water resources. Dr. Skopec currently coordinates the WMAS analyses of data from the statewide Ambient Water Monitoring Program.

IOWATER is a project of Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources. It trains volunteers to conduct basic water chemical, physical and biological measurements. Its mission is to protect and improve Iowa’s water quality by raising citizen awareness about Iowa’s watersheds, supporting and encouraging the growth and networking of Iowa’s volunteer water monitoring communities, and promoting water monitoring activities as a means of assessing and understanding Iowa’s aquatic resources.

Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works (DMWW). Stowe has served in his current position since 2012. His previous positions include Assistant Manager-Public Works/Engineering for the City of Des Moines, Human Resources Director for the City of Des Moines, Operations Manager for MidAmerican Energy, as well as an analyst for Shell Oil, labor relations representative for Inland Steel Industries and a field examiner for the National Labor Relations Board.

Dr. Franics Thicke, Owner/Operator of Radiance Dairy and member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). An organic farmer for more than 30 years, Dr. Thicke currently operates an 80-cow, certified organic dairy in Fairfield, producing milk, cream, yogurt and cheese for sale at local grocery stores and restaurants. He has been active in many organic and environmental organizations including the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Leopold Group Sierra Club in Southeast Iowa, Food Democracy Now, the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.

NOSB is a Federal Advisory Committee whose members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The NOSB advises USDA on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing, based on criteria under the Organic Foods Production Act. As a member of NOSB, Dr. Thicke also serves on its Environmentalist/Resource Conservationists Subcommittee.

Davenport SCENE (Sustainable City Empowered Network for Education) is supported by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Davenport SCENE is a unique partnership of several local agencies including Eastern Iowa Community Colleges/Scott Community College Library and the college’s Advanced Technology Environmental and Energy Center, Figge Art Museum, Davenport Public Library, Nahant Marsh Educational Center, Quad Cities Food Hub, Junior Achievement, Living Lands and Waters, and River Music Experience.

The goal of the partnership is to advance the science and information literacy of Davenport residents of all ages regarding environmental sustainability and energy efficiency in order to move Davenport toward becoming a sustainable city.

For more information call 563-441-4150.

Letter To Iowa Landowners Along Proposed Pipeline Route

photo credit:

Kelcy Warren’s Dallas, TX mansion-photo:

Letter to Landowners
Posted on March 9, 2015 by Ed Fallon

This is the letter Ed is sharing with landowners and others he meets along the pipeline route.

Dear Fellow Iowan,

As I’m sure you know, a Texas billionaire named Kelcy Warren wants to build an oil pipeline through Iowa. I am walking across Iowa following roads near the path of the proposed pipeline. As a state lawmaker for 14 years, I worked to toughen eminent domain laws to protect property owners when government and developers tried to take land for private gain. I also served on the House Environmental Protection Committee because I care deeply about Iowa’s land and water.

Warren is offering landowners a lot of money for an easement to their land. But it’s important that you and other landowners in the path of the pipeline know the risks involved.

* Pipelines break. You may have heard about the big ones, like Yellowstone and Kalamazoo. But the full list of spills is incredible (See Wikipedia: “List of pipeline accidents in the United States in the 21st century”). It’s not a question of if Warren’s pipeline will break, it’s a question of when and where.

* When the pipeline does break, there isn’t enough money to clean-up even one spill. Warren’s company has pledged only $250,000 to clean-up efforts in Iowa. The Kalamazoo spill has cost almost $1 billion – and it’s not done yet. In Wisconsin, the pipeline company pledged $100 million – for one county!

* Even if the pipeline doesn’t break on your land, it will still affect your property values. No one has ever seen their property values increase because an oil pipeline ran through it.

* You won’t be the only one affected if something goes wrong. Iowa’s water is important to us all.

There are many unanswered questions and potential problems. The pipeline company wants you to think this is a done deal, that you should just sell them an easement to your land. But the Utilities Board hasn’t even granted them the right of eminent domain. And there is a bipartisan bill in the Iowa Legislature that would, among other things, make it clear that a pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to refineries in Texas (most of which will be exported) does not constitute a public benefit for Iowa.

I talked to one farmer who’s against it because it goes through the pasture where he wants to build a home for his grand kids. I talked with another landowner whose forest would be decimated. I met a couple who were going to lose their home to the pipeline before they found a loophole that protected them. I have spoken with many other landowners, each with their own reason why they hope and pray that this pipeline will be stopped.

For the sake of these and many, many other landowners – and for your own sake – I ask you to carefully consider whether it’s worth a one-time cash payment, given the potential long-term damage to your property, your neighbors and Iowa’s waterways.

Thank you for reading this letter. I would be happy to talk with or meet with you or any of your neighbors. Here’s my cell phone number: 515-238-6404. And you also can reach me at


Ed Fallon