The number of polluted Iowa waterways is again on the rise. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources now reports more than 570 waterways in the state are listed as contaminated. Adam Mason, a spokesman for the group Concerned Citizens of Iowa, attributes the increase in pollution to a lack of compliance with federal regulations.
Mason says all factory farms in Iowa have the potential to pollute. “Every factory farm in the state should be issued a Clean Water Act permit,” Mason says, “so basically, if a factory farm was found to be polluting, the D.N.R. could go in and shut them down.”
D.N.R. spokesman Kevin Baskins says animal agriculture is only a portion of the problem. The D.N.R. plans to initiate a water quality improvement process to identify the causes of pollution and limit future contamination. The current number of polluted waterways in Iowa is the highest number ever recorded.
Mason says pollution in Iowa waterways affects how the water has to be treated. “The Des Moines metro area actually has one of the largest water processing facilities in the world,” he says. “That’s largely because the water that feeds the processing plant here at Des Moines Water Works is coming from areas that are highly polluted, both Raccoon River and the Des Moines River.”
Mason says many of Iowa’s waterways don’t meet state water quality standards. The D.N.R. will enact water quality improvement plans for 80% of the impaired waterways.