DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission took public comment for almost two hours on Tuesday morning over concerns with water quality in Iowa.
“I stand here today to ask the EPC to do what it says in your name, what you that are supposed to do, protect our environment,” said Pat Bowen of Iowa City. "Please use your power to make sure we have compliance with the Clean Water Act."
Speakers spent the morning also calling for a moratorium on new hog confinement operations.
“You’ve also heard that with only 16 F-T-E Inspectors on staff, it’s clear the DNR does not have the resources to enforce the Clean Water Act,” said Heather Pearson from Harrison County.
There were also agriculture industry groups, the Iowa Farm Bureau, and the Iowa Pork Producers, who spoke on behalf of hog farmers.
“The USDA tracks Iowa pig numbers quarterly by weight class, maintaining strong accuracy in these numbers,” said Tyler Bettin of the Iowa Pork Producers. “The attempt by some to misconstrue these numbers is misleading and another attempt to degrade Iowa farm families and the professionalism by which they manage their farms.”
The groups Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Sierra Club are seeking a statewide moratorium on new hog confinements.
“Statewide we’re not where we can do that, that has to come from the legislature,” said EPC Chair Ralph Lents. “Some of these where they are trying to spread manure close to a town or something, we’re always asking the producer if we can find another place, we want everyone to be a good neighbor.”
The state of Iowa is nearing the end of a five-year working agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to improve monitoring of livestock waste in the state.
“One of the things was to conduct inspections of all the facilities in the state, very proud of our staff, we’ve been able to do that,” said Bill Ehm of the Iowa DNR. “At this point in time, we think we’re going to be able to complete everything, our next report is due August 1st, and we look that we’ll be able to achieve that quite handily.”
“We know that on paper the DNR says they are doing great,” said Jess Mazour of Iowa CCI. “In reality, anyone knows if you just drive around our state that we still have an inadequate factory farm program, factory farms are building at an enormous rate.”
Iowa CCI will send a letter to the EPA with reasons why Iowa regulators are not complying with the Clean Water Act.