Elizabeth Miglin | May 19, 2021
The state environmental panel approved a controversial new water quality rule which could take away important protections for Iowa’s waterways.
The governor-appointed Environmental Protection Commission approved rules on Tuesday related to water quality certifications and permits. The Iowa Environmental Council, a nonprofit coalition of 80 environmental groups, said the new rules would immediately remove multiple protections for Iowa’s waterways as well as cause other protections to regress. The new water quality rule would specifically require projects near outstanding waters receive individual certification, allow for heavy equipment in the area, and would remove wetland loss restrictions.
The EPA requires any changes to the water quality rules be tied to specific water quality standards, including the following of other code sections pertaining to water quality and pollution standards. However, the environmental council argues the conditions set by the commission are not enough and could lead to further water quality standard violations if they remain the standard for water quality protection. Iowa Department of Natural Resources water quality monitoring staff supervisor Roger Bruner said the suggested changes by the environmental council were “outside the scope” of federal rules by not being directly related to a specific water quality standard, according to the Iowa Capital Dispatch.
More than 60% of Iowa’s rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs are considered impaired due to harmful levels of bacteria and algae fueled by runoff of manure and fertilizers according to the Iowa DNR.