A state committee has signed off on tougher environmental rules aimed at keeping Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams free of pollution. The new standards place stricter requirements on wastewater treatment plants, planning to discharge into Iowa waterways.
Many cities and counties opposed the tougher rules, saying it will cost too much to upgrade their plants. But the lawyer for Iowa’s chapter of the Sierra Club, Wally Taylor, says the new rules are worth it.
“We all want clean water. Everybody says they want clean water. We all have to bear the burden of ensuring we have clean water. These rules are designed to ensure that the waters that are clean, stay clean. That’s what anti-degradation is all about,” Taylor says.
The Department of Natural Resources held a series of 13 public hearings across the state leading up to the approval today by the Administrative Rules Review Committee, and the rules that will go into effect on February 17th. A lawyer with the Environmental Law and Policy Center , Brad Klein, says he sees no reason for further challenges.
“We feel there’s no reason for these rules to end up in court. We feel it’s been a long and very careful process in developing the rules and we end up with a very fair and flexible and balanced approach that, in our mind, will comply with the Clean Water Act,” Klein says.
Senator Marlin Bartz , a Republican from Grafton, made one final effort to block implementation, but he fell two votes short. Governor Culver wrote a letter in support of the new standards. Culver’s letter said the regulations will ensure Iowa’s waters remain “fishable and swimmable to the fullest extent” possible.