Iowans ask to halt CAFO construction until water is clean

Large livestock feeding operations often pollute local waterways with organic waste. (Waterkeeper Alliance/flickr)
Jenna Ladd | January 19, 2017

Local, state and national organizations showed up at the capitol in Des Moines this week to ask lawmakers to halt Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) construction until fewer than 100 of Iowa’s waterways are impaired.

Called Iowa Alliance for Responsible Agriculture, the coalition rallied behind Independent Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan as he introduced a group of 15 bills designed to tighten environmental regulations on large hog farms. At present, 750 of the state’s waterways are polluted to the point of impairment due to industrial agriculture byproducts.

Bill Stowe, CEO of the Des Moines Water Works and member of the coalition, said that industrial agriculture is making Iowa’s “rivers, lakes and streams filthy — filthy with nutrients, filthy with bacteria, filthy with organic matter,” according to the Register.

He added, “Iowans need to push back on this and join together with leaders here in the Legislature to stop the status quo.”

There are 13,000 CAFOs in the state of Iowa and that number continues to grow. The current regulatory document for new hog facilities was developed in 2002 and only requires CAFOs to meet 50 percent of its requirements to be approved for construction.

Senator Johnson’s package of bills would also require CAFO applicants to notify nearby landowners and give county supervisors the power to determine CAFO locations. Johnson said, “It’s time to get tough on the poor siting of hog confinements, including those being built in environmentally sensitive areas, where the smell and sound of someone else’s money is in your bedroom every night.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Reynolds has said that she would consider the legislation if it reaches her desk.

On the Radio: Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard 2013

Photo by eutrophication&hypoxia; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers the newly updated Iowa Nutrient Management Conservation Practice Standard. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

Continue reading

Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission will not require new nutrient level standards

Photo by josquin2000; Flickr

The commission sided with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in a unanimous vote. The DNR encouraged the commission to reject a petition from environmental groups urging the state to adopt new standards.

The DNR cited “insufficient time” passed since the commission last looked at the issue of nutrient lake pollution, a lack of study of the results of the state’s new nutrient reduction strategy, and other reasons for not wanting to adopt the standards requested in a petition by the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and other groups.

To learn more, check out The Gazette. 

On the Radio: Algae Blooms in Iowa

Photo by JoyBot; Flickr

This week’s radio segment discusses cyanobacteria and the potential harm to humans.  Read the transcript below or listen to the audio here. Continue reading