Notes From the Field: Iowa’s Impaired Waterways


Sioux City, Iowa.  I’m always amazed at the audacity of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.  He makes some of the most outrageous claims. Obviously, he believes Iowans are a gullible lot. He recently asserted that his administration, along with the farming community, are better able to safeguard the water quality of Iowa’s rivers, streams, and lakes than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Yeah, sure they are.  Just look at how well they’ve done over the years.

In 2008, the governor’s brother, Monte, a farmer near Forest City, was caught dumping corn silage into the Winnebago River. In 2012, an environmental watchdog listed the Big Sioux as the 13th most polluted river in the U.S.  The Big Sioux is really nothing but a sewer; it’s brimming with a toxic stew of farm chemicals, industrial waste, cow manure, and pig poop. In May 2015, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported that Iowa possessed 725 impaired water bodies, up from 630 in 2012. Both of those statistics are suspect.  The number of impaired streams in the state probably numbers in the thousands.  Iowa’s urban residents should welcome EPA oversight of the state’s waterways, because the past fews years have revealed a simple fact: the governor and the state’s Ag producers aren’t going to protect us from farm pollution.

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