Water quality woes around the nation

By now, most Iowa farmers have at least heard of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a set of guidelines created to improve the quality of water bodies in Iowa. Each state along the Mississippi River is putting in place similar guidelines that will aid in the improvement of the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Zone, or “Dead Zone.”

NOAA released a report this week on the current size of the Gulf’s hypoxia zone, “NOAA, EPA-supported scientists find average but large Gulf dead zone.” They report that it is approximately the size of Connecticut.

There are other areas of the country that are dealing with similar water quality issues.

Lake Erie is struggling with algae blooms and it is effecting Toledo, Ohio’s drinking water, “Lake Erie’s Algae Woes Began Building A Decade Ago.” We have seen how algae blooms affect water bodies in Iowa. The Des Moines Register ran a story this week that explores whether it could happen in Iowa, “Algae threat to Des Moines’ water feared.”  The story shows that the topic is not a black and white (or blue and green!) issue.

Maryland and Chesapeake Bay area farmers have had state regulations set for nutrient management on their farms. An article in Iowa Farmer Today reports of Iowa Corn Growers Association members on a tour of a Maryland farm, “Maryland Farmers Saddled With Regulations.”

Algae bloom at Hickory Grove Lake in Story County.

Algae bloom at Hickory Grove Lake in Story County.

Iowa Learning Farms shows farmers conservation practices that work to reduce sediment and nutrients that leave their fields. Through field days and resources, including our how-to DVDs and webinars, we offer opportunities for learning about cover crops, no-till and strip-till, nutrient management and more, all of which helps to improve water quality.


Voice your opinion on water quality in Iowa

The DNR announced several public water quality meetings, as part of the review process set by the federal Clean Water Act:

Iowans Invited to Help Set Water Quality Goals for Streams, Rivers

“Iowans are invited to attend one of six public water quality meetings held by the DNR across the state. The DNR is gathering Iowans’ thoughts on improving the state’s water quality goals as part of its three-year review of water quality standards and goals.

The meetings are part of the triennial review process set forth in the federal Clean Water Act, providing opportunity to the public to help set state goals for streams and rivers.

 “This is the public’s opportunity to tell us what is important to them,” said Rochelle Weiss, DNR water quality standards coordinator. “We want to hear Iowans’ concerns about potential pollutant levels, how streams are being used and how to protect existing water quality.”

The triennial review process ensures water quality standards, as listed in Chapter 61 of the Iowa Administrative Code, are up-to-date. Following the public comment period, the DNR will meet with the stakeholder technical advisory team to consider the public’s suggestions.

 After identifying issues, the DNR will develop a work plan to address the concerns.

Public meetings will be held at the following locations and times in alphabetical order:

Sept. 3, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Rock Island Depot, 102 Chestnut St.

Clear Lake
Sept. 9, 4 to 6 p.m.
Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce Lakeview Room, 10 North Lakeview Drive

Sept. 9, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Falcon Civic Center, 1305 Fifth Ave. NE

Sept. 3, 4 to 6 p.m.
Spencer Public Library (Round Room), 21 East Third St.

Sept. 4, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Washington Public Library (Nicholas Stoufer Room), 115 West Washington

West Des Moines
Sept. 8, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
West Des Moines Public Library (Community Room), 4000 Mills Civic Parkway

 Those not able to attend a meeting may submit written comments by Oct. 15 to: Rochelle Weiss, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 502 East Ninth St., Des Moines, IA 50319, or by e-mailing Rochelle.Weiss@dnr.iowa.gov.

 More information, including the full text of Chapter 61, is available at http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryWater/WaterQualityStandards/Rules.aspx under “Rule Reference Documents.”

-Carol Brown

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