Livestock may be reason for Lake Red Rock pollution


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 23, 2021

University of Iowa scientists are suggesting Lake Red Rock’s pollution is from livestock.

Des Moines Water Works saw a spike of E. coli bacteria in water in recent weeks, which is likely to be from the upstream Lake Red Rock. A spokesperson for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chelsea Tyler, told KCCI that the outbreak was caused by geese in the area. However, Director of the University of Iowa’s Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination David Cwiertny said this is unlikely.

In an interview with Iowa Capital Dispatch, Cwiertny said the number of geese in Des Moines does not correlate to them being the main source of the E. coli in the water. Iowa livestock is more likely to be the culprit.

Research Engineer at the university, Chris Jones, agreed with Cwiertny. He said there are more than 25 million hogs, which are individually larger than the 100,000 geese in the state.

Within the past few weeks, Des Moines Water Works has seen an increase in fecal bacteria levels in the Des Moines River. The river runs into Lake Red Rock.

Issues in Iowa’s waterways are often blamed on geese, the Dispatch reported. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources have also said geese are at fault for pollution issues in lakes and other waterways in the past few years.

Iowa Environmental Council reports lack of success with state’s water cleanup strategies


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Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 2, 2021

The current plan to clean Iowa’s polluted waterways would take up to 22,000 years to meet its goals according to the Iowa Environmental Council.

The council issued a new report based on its latest review of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy—which the state originally adopted in 2013. The strategy is based on a science and technology framework that assesses the nutrients in Iowa’s waterways and attempts to reduce them. The report said the program, which has been the backbone of the state’s water quality efforts in recent years, is not working in the council’s view.

The strategy is failing to reduce nutrient pollution in Iowa’s water. The council criticized the state’s solution, calling it an immensely slow response to the serious water quality issues plaguing the state. One of the places the strategy is falling short is in funding, according to the report. Iowa lawmakers increased funding for the program by almost $300 million over the next 12 years, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch.

The Iowa Environmental Council also joined a group of 10 riverfront states in calling for a new federal initiative to improve the water quality in the Mississippi River. The group is advocating for a bill that would create a federal Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative that would restore the river that faces runoff, habitat loss, and intense flooding events annually.