CCI Action Fund Members Deliver “Clean Water Now” Letter To Branstad’s Urbandale Campaign Office

CCI Action Fund members say every factory farm in Iowa must be inspected and permitted, but deal on table may only guarantee inspections for 537 out of 8,000 facilities, a losing proposition for cleaning up Iowa’s water


More than two dozen Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund (Iowa CCI Action Fund) members entered Governor Terry Branstad’s Urbandale campaign office on August 20 and delivered a letter demanding Branstad support a strong Clean Water Act work plan agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“A strong work plan means inspections and permits for every factory farm in Iowa, plus tougher fines and penalties for polluters,” said Barb Kalbach, a fourth-generation family farmer from Dexter.

CCI Action Fund members briefly spoke with top Branstad campaign political director Phil Valenziano, before Valenziano ran into the back of the office, closed and locked his door, and called the Urbandale police.  Jake Ketzner, Branstad’s campaign manager, and Jimmy Centers, the campaign communications director, were also present but remained inside locked offices.

CCI Action Fund members held a speak-out inside the campaign headquarters and leafleted the building before leaving when requested by Urbandale police officers.  Demonstrators chanted “Put people first,” “Clean it up,” “Police need a raise,” and “we’ll be back”.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members also testified at the August 20 Environmental Protection Commission meeting at Des Moines Water Works and demanded DNR Director Chuck Gipp sign a strong work plan agreement to inspect and permit the 8,000 largest factory farms in Iowa.

Iowa CCI Action Fund members say a draft agreement between the EPA and DNR includes language that stipulates only factory farms with more than 5,000 hogs may receive an on-site inspection by DNR field staff.  This number is twice the limit of EPA’s own guidance, which states all factory farms larger than 2,500 hogs must receive an on-site inspection, and four times larger than Iowa CCI members position that any factory farm larger than 1,250 hogs should receive an on-site inspection.

Here is a breakdown of the number of factory farms in Iowa based on their size, according to DNR records:

•              0-1,250 hogs                              2828

•              1,251 – 2,500 hogs                    3604 (CCI says this level and above must be inspected)

•              2,501 – 5,000 hogs                    2661 (EPA’s own guidance says this level and above)

•              5,000+ hogs                                 537 (proposed level in draft EPA/DNR agreement)

Iowa has more than 628 polluted waterways, 800 documented manure spills, and 8,000 largely unregulated factory farms producing hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic manure every year.

Iowa’s water quality crisis this year was so severe that Des Moines Water Works had to turn on the world’s largest nitrate removal system for nearly 90 days, costing ratepayers close to $700,000.

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