DES MOINES – Today, the local environmental non-profit organization Environment Iowa delivered over 5,000 petition signatures to Sen. Dick Dearden, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, calling on Iowa leaders to protect Iowa’s rivers by reducing runoff pollution from corporate agribusiness.
“Iowa’s rivers should be clean—for swimming, for fishing, and for drinking water,” said Josh Kublie, campaign coordinator with Environment Iowa. “But our rivers will only be clean when we require corporate agribusiness to curb its runoff pollution.”
Runoff pollution from industrial agriculture into Iowa's rivers is a huge health risk. There are 470 rivers in Iowa that are too polluted for swimming, and recent record levels of nitrate pollution threatened clean drinking water for families relying on residential wells.
”High nitrates are directly threatening the drinking water for five hundred thousand people here in central Iowa,” said Bill Stowe, CEO of the Des Moines Water Works. “We need state leadership to act right away on mandatory limits for runoff from industrial agriculture.”
The governor’s nutrient reduction strategy relies on voluntary action from corporate agribusiness, but doesn’t actually require them to take concrete steps to reduce its pollution. This voluntary approach is one we know failed the Chesapeake Bay for more than 20 years.
That’s why Environment Iowa members and supporters are calling on the state Legislature to take action beyond the governor's nutrient reduction strategy—to create mandatory limits on agricultural runoff, a polluter pays system, and a plan with an enforceable timetable to clean up our polluted rivers.
”If an ordinary farmer like me can take make sure manure isn’t flowing from my fields into our rivers and streams, then so can Big Ag” noted Gary Klicker, a small farmer. “It doesn’t matter what size farm you have; we all must do our part.”
“High nitrate levels this year have highlighted the need for more aggressive soil conservation practices on every Iowa farm,” added Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City). “Iowans want and deserve soil conservation and clean water.”
“Iowans have shown that they are not willing to tolerate polluted rivers very much longer. They’ve demanded action from their leaders, and are urging the state to set a science-based numeric limit on pollution,” said Kublie. “The state should make simple, pollution-reducing practices mandatory and enforceable, right now.”
Environment Iowa is a statewide, citizen based advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.