Lots of Questions for Branstad Regarding Water Quality

Water quality monitoring and other water programs at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources–some federally mandated–are meant to protect the public health.  Yet a proposal to transfer several of these programs to the Department of Agriculture, say legislators, comes from Governor Branstad and is about making the programs “more efficient.”  How will these programs actually be more efficient if operated by IDALS? No one, who understands the actual operations of each program, seems to know.

With the potential public health impact, where are the studies that show that, unlike every other state in the nation, Iowa's water programs will be run “more efficiently” AND still be protective of public health if overseen by an elected official whose mission is “Advancing Iowa's Agricultural Interests,” when many of Iowa's agricultural groups have historically and actively lobbied against water quality protections?

Bill numbers are currently being assigned to these study bills, which passed out of Senate and House Committees last week. 

  • it seems obvious

    that Branstad views environmental regulation of all kinds as a needless impediment to business. IDALS staff aren’t trained to work in this area, whereas DNR staff are.

  • from the Sierra Club Iowa chapter

    e-mail blast of March 9:

    Opponents of clean water are trying to decimate the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency that enforces environmental protection laws and rules.

    These clean water opponents are trying to transfer authority from the DNR to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), an agency whose primary function is to serve and promote agriculture.

    Tell Legislators “NO” to turning over water protection to an agency whose primary function is to serve and promote agriculture.

    HSB180 (the original number of the bill ) would transfer administrative duties for the EPA-funded Clean Water Act Section 319 (the Non-Point Source Water Pollution program), Water Resources Coordinating Council, Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDLs), and agriculture-related National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits from the DNR to IDALS.

    This transfer would be unnecessary, costly, and inefficient, by turning over these programs to an agency ill-suited to enforce the Clean Water Act. This bill places 12 years of progress toward clean water at risk!

    Urge your legislators to protect Iowa’s water and not turn over water protection to IDALS!

    Section 319 funds point-source (wastewater treatment discharge) and non-point source (agricultural and stormwater runoff discharge) programs. It also also funds watershed planning grants, wetland and trout stream restoration, small open feedlot strategies and nutrient management. It would be costly and inefficient to have the programs currently implemented by the DNR split in two.

    TMDLs are improvement plans written for impaired waters.  If IDALS reduced or eliminated water monitoring programs already in place, it could take years before the status of Iowa’s waters are known and immense degradation could occur in that length of time.

    Permits to discharge water from large concentrated animal feeding operations would move to IDALS and protections could be stripped from those permits.

    There are simply too many questions left unanswered for this legislation to move forward.  Contact your legislators today and tell them you oppose this bill!

    Thank you for letting your legislators hear from you.

    Sincerely,

    Neila Seaman

    Iowa Chapter Director

    P.S. Find out more about what this bill does to the destruction of Iowa’s water programs.

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