House Bills Would Give IDALS Responsibility of Protecting Iowa's Water Quality

Governor Branstad and legislators are considering transferring Section 319/Clean Water Act compliance functions, water monitoring and other water quality protection programs from the DNR to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).  The 319 section of the Clean Water Act deals with non-point source pollution.  Agricultural practices are the primary source of non-point source pollution in Iowa. 

Secretary Northey and his department are very capable and trusted advocates for Iowa’s agricultural economy.  But the primary mission and priorities of his department are not about protecting water quality.  If transferred to IDALS, water quality would take a back seat to agricultural economic priorities.  Given the historical resistance to water quality restrictions by some groups representing agriculture, moving our water protection programs to IDALS could put politics before sound science. 

Also important to note is that Section 319 deals with urban sources of non-point pollution and IDALS does not have experience or expertise in addressing urban stormwater management issues.  Transfer of this responsibility will put protection of water quality for all Iowans at risk.

You can find an action alert and a sample message to send to Gov. Branstad and legislators at http://capwiz.com/iaenvironment/home/  

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: I posted background information from Iowa Rivers Revival and the Iowa Environmental Council after the jump.

From Iowa Rivers Revival:

Efforts to improve water quality are being threatened by several bills and by a recent Farm Bureau lawsuit attempting to overturn the water quality anti-degradation rules that took years of work to complete and pass.

 HSB 180 -the most foreboding bill that could impact water quality, transfers the authority for water monitoring and protection from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). It would also transfer the entire 319 EPA funded Non-Point Source Water Pollution program from IDBR to IDALS. At a time when “less spending and government efficiency” is the message coming from legislative leaders –  this transfer is unnecessary and costly, requiring planning, hiring and duplication that the taxpayer can ill afford, while turning over water protection to an agency whose primary function is to serve and promote agriculture.

According to an Iowa Department of Administrations publication, “The object of the [Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship] is to encourage, promote, market, and advance the interests of agriculture, including production practices, such as organic or conventional, that may lead to direct marketing of raw product and value-added goods.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is the government agency that leads Iowans in caring for their natural resources. It is responsible for maintaining state parks and forests, protecting the environment, and managing energy, fish, wildlife, and land and water resouces in Iowa. The DNR's mission: To conserve and enhance our natural resources in cooperation with individuals and organizations to improve the quality of life for Iowans and ensure a legacy for future generations

Democracy in Iowa will be poorly served by this change, which would result in no oversight from the Governor or the citizen commission who both represent all Iowa interests in clean water. The Governor has the authority to move the EPA 319 programs by executive order to any state agency.

SUMMARY

Call or write your legislative leaders today. Inquire about their next in-district forum and try to attend if available. We have to initiate the lines of communication and education with our policy leaders if we expect them to look out for rivers.

 Iowa General Assembly (find a bill): http://www.legis.iowa.gov/index/aspx

Iowa Senate: 515.281.3371

Iowa House: 515.281.3221

 

From the Iowa Environmental Council:

Attack on Water Quality – your emails needed

 

Governor Branstad and legislators are considering transferring Section 319/Clean Water Act compliance functions, water monitoring and other water quality protection programs from the DNR to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS). The 319 section of the Clean Water Act deals with non-point source pollution. Agricultural practices are the primary source of non-point source pollution in Iowa.

We believe that Secretary Northey and his department are very capable and trusted advocates for Iowa's agricultural economy. But the primary mission and priorities of his department are not about protecting water quality. If transferred to IDALS, water quality would take a back seat to agricultural economic priorities. Given the historical resistance to water quality restrictions by some factions of the Iowa agricultural community, moving our water protection programs to IDALS could put politics before sound science.

Also important to note is that Section 319 deals with urban sources of non-point pollution and IDALS does not have experience or expertise in addressing urban stormwater management issues. Transfer of this responsibility will put protection of water quality for all Iowans at risk.

Contact Governor Branstad today – urge him to leave the EPA 319 program and other critical water quality programs with the DNR. Governor Terry Branstad: 515-281-5211 or http://www.governor.iowa.gov/contact/

You may also follow the link at the top of this email to a sample message that you can edit and send to Governor Branstad and your legislators.

Thank you for taking action!

Lynn Laws

Communications Director

Iowa Environmental Council

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