The Des Moines River

A report released today by the group Environment Iowa shows industrial facilities, in 2010, dumped over 6.2 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Iowa’s rivers. Spokeswoman Samantha Chadwick says only 14 other states dumped more waste into their waterways. “The Mississippi River alone received almost 1.9 million pounds of toxic chemicals dumped in our state,” Chadwick said.

After the Mississippi, the Des Moines River is second in the state for toxic releases with 1.14 million pounds. That’s followed by the Iowa River (981,225 pounds) and the Cedar River (721,163 pounds). “The message of our report is clear; our waterways shouldn’t be industries dumping ground. Our rivers are too important to the health of the state and our quality of life,” Chadwick said.

Steve Roe, president of the Raccoon River Watershed Association, was shocked to hear the Raccoon was contaminated with 384,000 pounds of toxic chemicals in one year. “And the flow now is so low…when you think about the amount of toxic waste dumped in a year and that small amount of water – it’s frightening,” Roe said. He noted that 500,000 Iowans depend on water from the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers for their drinking water.

Jerry Peckum, a corn and soybean farmer in Greene County, is board chair of the group Iowa Rivers Revival. He said standards and rules designed to address improving waterways are far too weak. “It is time we all accept responsibility, work to find solutions and accept the standards and rules we must have to achieve the goals of clean water envisioned in the Clean Water Act enacted more than 40 years ago,” Peckum said.

Peckum is calling on Iowa lawmakers to address pollution problems in the state’s waterways. “It hasn’t been an issue the legislature has cared to deal with and I don’t know why they don’t care to deal with it,” Peckum said.

The Environment Iowa report cited Roquette America Incorporated in Keokuk and Tyson Fresh Meats, which has several plants in Iowa, as the top two biggest water polluters in the state.

AUDIO full press conference (runs 13:14)