Members of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are turning in petition signatures to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, calling for tougher enforcement of the Clean Water Act.
Jess Mazour, ICCI’s farm and environment organizer, says the comments were focused on the DNR’s draft list of impaired waterways. She says more accountability is needed.
“We decided we were going to get as many comments as we can, offering a solution to some of these problems,” Mazour says. “In our eyes, issuing Clean Water Act permits and holding factory farms and manure polluters accountable is one way we can start cleaning up Iowa’s waters. We got about 2,000 comments collected online and in person from across the state and then we hand-delivered them to the DNR.”
Mazour says tougher rules and better enforcement are needed to protect the state’s waters. “Not a single hog confinement in Iowa has a Clean Water Act permit and the current permitting system is not working, obviously, because we continue to have manure spill after manure spill,” Mazour says. “We know these factory farms are basically getting away with polluting and the DNR’s not doing anything about it. We think the Clean Water Act will give them tougher regulations to follow and then start cleaning up our water.”
Mazour says the agency could use more state dollars to be able to enforce state environmental regulations. “The DNR needs more funding to hire more inspectors,” she says. “Right now, there’s only 15.75 full-time equivalent inspectors for over 9,000 of these facilities in Iowa. Obviously, the Clean Water Act needs to be implemented. They need to start issuing tough fines and penalties when manure spills occur.”
The DNR’s most recent list of impaired waterways in Iowa is at 725, that’s up from 630 in 2012.
(Reporting by Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)