The state’s Environmental Protection Commission is okaying rules designed to keep Iowa’s waters clean and to bring the state closer to being in line with federal anti-degradation policies. Those rules aim to keep industry and sewage plants from polluting lakes, rivers and streams designated as containing high-quality water.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Rich Leopold says both environmentalists and business interests should be pleased. “It gives us an ability as a society to give thoughtful consideration to what’s going into our water bodies,” Leopold says. “It doesn’t limit industry, it doesn’t limit agriculture, but what it does is assume the water is everybody’s and we have the right and responsibility to decide what goes into it.”
Leopold says the new rules were designed to keep pollutants out of lakes and streams which the state has already determined to be clean. “What anti-degradation does is before an additional discharge goes into a public water, we give pause and thought as to what’s going in and how it will affect existing uses, how it’s going to affect recreation, aquatic life and things like that.”
Representatives from groups like the Iowa Rural Water Association and the Iowa League of Cities hoped to table the measure until the cost of installing pollution-control devices for some utilities could be determined. The E-P-C voted 5-2 to approve the rules, that vote follows two years of discussion that included 13 public hearings and comments from more than 900 people.