DNR must be transparent and accountable in implementing CAFO rules

Next Tuesday, August 19, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will consider adopting rules for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). If adopted, these rules will require some confinement CAFOs that discharge manure to obtain Clean Water Act permits.  

We strongly support the full implementation of the Clean Water Act in Iowa. This includes requiring confinement CAFOs that discharge manure to obtain the permits that will be up for consideration at the EPC’s meeting next week.

However, we believe that in order for these rules to be effective, the DNR must establish clear criteria and processes for determining when a CAFO will or will not be designated as a “discharger” which must apply for a permit. It is critical that DNR provide the public with access to documentation detailing the decision making process that led to the determinations for individual facilities, as well as the ability to monitor enforcement of these permits.

Merely adopting these rules will not accomplish that.

Adoption of these rules simply affirms DNR’s responsibility to issue NPDES permits to CAFOs that discharge manure into Iowa’s waters. Without a transparent plan for implementation and enforcement, we will likely see more of the same pattern of repeated violations and increasingly polluted waters. We have formally submitted comments to DNR outlining our concerns and respectfully calling upon them to act.

The meeting, which will begin at 10 a.m. at the Wallace State Office Building Auditorium (502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines), is open to the public. Requests to speak must be submitted to Jerah Sheets at Jerah.Sheets@dnr.iowa.gov prior to the meeting or at the meeting prior to the start of public participation. Iowans that would like to submit comments but are unable to attend may do so via email, and their comments will be entered into the public record.

For more information about Tuesday’s meeting, including the full agenda, click here.

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