A few landfill operators in Iowa are clashing with the state’s Department of Natural Resources over rules designed to protect groundwater from waste contamination. The landfill operators are pushing for a state law that would prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from imposing stricter environmental rules on landfills than the federal government.
A consultant for the landfill operators, Cindy Turkle, says the D-N-R rules call for some old landfills to install expensive new technology. "We have old landfills that have been in place since 1970. They don’t have liners. They don’t have leachate collection systems. We have to come up with systems to remediate those old areas," Turkle says.
Turkle says landfills have been trying to comply with two sets of rules. Turkle says, "Small landfills around the state have gotten to the point where they were designing federally approved lined landfill systems and leachate collection systems, but then suddenly D-N-R changed the rules." But the director of the Iowa D-N-R, Rich Leopold, says the proposed new bill would infringe on existing laws that protect the environment.
"We don’t think this bill is necessary. We think we have all of the authority we need to protect the groundwater and the ability to work with private communities on environmental and economic concerns," Leopold says. Leopold says there’s also already an Iowa code that does not allow state rules to be more stringent than federal regulations
"We have a certain set of rules that have gone through that protect against unlined areas and we believe this proposed groundwater legislation would interfere with those rules," Leopold says. The future of the legislation is uncertain as the Senate subcommittee reviewing the bill did not send it on to the full committee Monday as members say they need more time to discuss it.