water quality

526,000 tons of nitrates 'exported' into Iowa rivers and streams in 2016; improved monitoring network providing better tracking of farm chemical runoff

An estimated 526,000 tons of nitrates were "exported" into Iowa rivers and streams in 2016, eventually flowing down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and adding to the so-called "dead zone" where fish cannot survive.

According to the Annual Progress Report of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) group released last week (12/12), more than 29 pounds of nitrogen from each of Iowa's 35.75 million acres of crop land ended up in state waterways.

A fast track is the wrong track for water quality

Editorial from Cedar Rapids Gazette. Used with permission.

We read news this week that water quality legislation may be placed on a fast track when lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey wants it to happen. Gov. Kim Reynolds says she hopes “it’s the first bill I get to sign as governor of the state of Iowa.”

That sounds like good news. That is, until you dig into the details.

EPA rejects IDNR effort to loosen water quality standards; change pushed by industry lobbyists

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected an effort to loosen water quality protection rules in Iowa, saying proposed changes to "antidegradation standards" sought by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) violate federal rules.

In a letter to the IDNR January 19, the EPA's Region 7 Administrator Mark Hague wrote the state was "seeking to establish a one-size-fits-all rule that only projects costs less than 115 percent of base costs optimize 'the balance between water quality benefits and project costs.' "

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