Blairstown dairy farm spills manure into Coon Creek

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Last Thursday an estimated 100,000 gallons of manure spilled out of a dairy farm near Blairstown into Coon Creek. This accident occurred when a contractor at Cedar Valley Farms punctured a manure transfer pipe. Although Coon Creek flows into the Iowa River, KCRG reports that it’s unlikely that the river will experience significant contamination:

Paul Sleeper, a DNR fishery biologist, said he will have to wait for the water to clear up more before he can tally up the number of fish killed. But he did visit the area where that creek tributary flows into the Iowa River near Marengo.

“We did go down there this (Friday) morning where it dumps into the Iowa River. At this time, we don’t see any impact. The Iowa River has a pretty good flow right now so we don’t anticipate any problems with that,” Sleeper said. Continue reading

DNR gets new environmental administrator

Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources continues to undergo significant administrative changes under Governor Terry Branstad. Last week Wayne Gieselman, the Environmental Protection Division Administrator, was pressured into resigning. Gieselman worked at the DNR for 12 years in total, and held this most recent position for over nine years. Long time farmer and environmental activist Bill Ehm took over as administrator last Friday. The Des Moines Register reports that Ehm is qualified to fill this new role:

Ehm raises broiler chickens near his hometown of Creston. He is co-founder of Smart Chicken, which raises chickens without using antibiotics or hormones. Ehm said he never has been cited for an environmental violation.

Over the years, Ehm has held a variety of environmental posts at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land stewardship and at DNR. Before becoming a state employee, Ehm served from 1989 to 2000 as Branstad’s appointee on the policy-making Iowa Environmental Protection Commission.

Ehm has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Iowa State University and a master’s of business administration degree from Drake University.

David Goodner of the nonprofit environmental group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement said the move isn’t surprising, given the change in governors earlier this year. He predicted Ehm would be well-received. Continue reading

DNR: 2010 efforts saved 24,000 tons of soil

Iowa’s waters may be filthy, but according to a DNR release, they could be worse:

Almost 24,000 tons of soil are staying put on the land and out of Iowa streams, rivers and lakes, thanks to conservation practices installed in fiscal year 2010, according to numbers released by the DNR.

Put that amount of soil in dump trucks, and it would make a line 7.5 miles long. The numbers indicate that conservation practices on agricultural and urban land are effectively reducing pollutants reaching Iowa’s water. Continue reading

$10 Million goes to flood prevention

Monday was a fine day for enemies of sogginess.

From the Iowa City Press-Citizen:

Since floods ravaged Iowa in 2008, more than half a billion dollars has been spent to prevent that kind of widespread destruction from happening again.

However, Rebuild Iowa Executive Director Lt. Gen. Ron Dardis said the state still has a long way to go before it can be safe from future flooding.

“We are still clearly in the first phase of the recovery,” Dardis said.

On Monday, Dardis, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Water Policy director Bill Ehm, State Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, and University of Iowa IIHR director Larry Weber announced a series of initiatives that will move Iowans closer to protecting themselves the next time flooding strikes the state.

About $10 million in Community Development Block Grant funds will go toward three projects designed to better understand Iowa’s watersheds and floodplains, promote collaboration between government entities within watersheds and educate the public about watersheds and flood mitigation efforts.

The $10 million is a portion of the $84.1 million awarded to Iowa from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Disaster Recovery Enhancement Fund. A total of $312 million went to 13 states, with Iowa getting the largest cut.

“The impact of these activities is sure to improve Iowa’s future,” Weber said….

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