The Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) has approved issuing a public notice that it plans to look at changes in the rules for using one of the largest sources of water in the state. The Jordan Aquifer runs under much of the state and increased pumping of water has raised concerns about its future.
Jerah Sheets with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the state is looking at rules to prevent overuse. “The notice provides the first step towards going out and having public meetings, accepting written comments, and gathering more feedback and information regarding the rules,” Sheets says.
The proposed rules would implement a tiered classification system for existing and future Jordan wells based on pumping levels and it will require permits under the state’s water allocation rules. There would also be areas in Johnson, Linn and Webster counties that would be added to the protected source rules, and only the D.N.R. would issue well construction permits inside of those defined areas.
“We think there is some need for a different set of rules, this is what think is the need is out there. We’d like to go out and begin that process of engagement with stakeholders and citizens,” according to Sheets. Sheet says they want to have rules in place now to address potential slowdowns of usage to be able to maintain the critical water needs.
Sheets says there’s not a shortage of water at this time. “We’re not there at this point, we hope that we’ll never be there,” Sheets says. “But is there would be a challenge or concern in the future, these rules would assist with identifying how and who is allocated water.” The EPC will take public comment on the issue and three public hearings are proposed on the rules for Coralville, Des Moines and Fort Dodge in April.