Environmental advocacy groups ask DNR director to overrule feedlot project


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | May 27, 2021

Environmental groups and state lawmakers are asking Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon to block a project that plans to place 11,600 cattle near a protected trout stream in northeast Iowa.

The Supreme Beef cattle operation is planned to be near Monona and Bloody Run Creek. The creek is a protected trout stream and is considered an Outstanding Iowa Water. The feedlot will be in the creek’s watershed. Supreme Beef plans to apply manure in fields that are also in the watershed.

More than 40 groups, individuals, and elected officials sent a letter to Lyon asking her to use the “director discretion rule” to veto the approval of the operation. Lyon was appointed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to head the DNR. She formerly worked as a lobbyist for the Iowa Instituted for Cooperatives according to Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The letter argues the risk posed to the water quality of the Bloody Run Creek is “just too high”. Five state representatives and four state senators signed onto the letter alongside the Sierra Club and the Iowa Environmental Council. Agricultural groups like the Iowa Farmers Union also signed the letter.

The groups are asking for a “departmental evaluation” of the proposal to provide special protection of the environmentally sensitive area due to the potential for manure to run into the Bloody Run Creek’s waterway.

The approval of the feedlot was decided on April 2. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, if Lyons does not overrule the plan, environmental groups could consider filing a lawsuit against Supreme Beef.

PFAS contamination poses risk to drinking water


River in Des Moines, Iowa
Photo by Philip Hall, flickr

Tyler Chalfant | August 6th, 2019

The U.S. military found high levels of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, contaminating water at Air National Guard bases in Des Moines and Sioux City earlier this year. 

The Des Moines Water Works, along with representatives from the local, state, and federal governments, formed a working group to better understand this contamination and the effects it may have on drinking water.

In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a health advisory for PFAS contamination in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion. At some sites, the levels were nearly 200 times that number. So far no PFAS have been found in the drinking water near these cities, though more testing is being conducted to determine if the contamination has spread to area wells. 

PFAS were once found in several consumer products, from carpets to clothing to paper packaging, but they were phased out of production between 2000 and 2006. However, they are still used in a variety of industrial processes, as well as in firefighting foams used at airfields, including these Iowa bases.

Studies have shown these chemicals can adversely affect immunity, cholesterol, liver tissue, certain hormones, and the development of fetuses and infants, as well as increase the risk of some cancers. 

Though a few communities have been exposed to PFAS through contaminated water, most people are exposed to them through consumer products and food. Because of this, virtually everyone contains some level of PFAS in their blood, but scientists have found these levels to be decreasing over time.

Massive fish kills in South Skunk River


Photo by Towboat Garage, Flickr

Last week a manure spill caused the death of more than 30,000 fish in Hamilton County. This was the South Skunk River’s second fish kill of the week.

Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources reports:

A fish kill on the South Skunk River near the Hamilton and Story County line last week affected five miles of stream and killed an estimated 27,456 fish valued at $38,056. Continue reading