DNR FACT-CHECK: Iowa Has 630 Polluted Waters

DNR FACT-CHECK:  Iowa has 630 polluted waterways, not 480


DNR water quality “expert” low-balls polluted waters list in House Environmental Protection Committee meeting January 28


In a meeting January 28 before the House Environmental Protection Committee, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) incorrectly claimed the state’s polluted waters list is 480 impaired waterways when the real number is much larger and stands at 630 rivers, lakes, and streams.

John Olson, DNR’s clean water expert, testified at a House environmental protection committee meeting on January 28 and stated Iowa has 480 impaired waterways according to a 2012 survey approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

That number was later quoted in a variety of statewide news outlets.  But the DNR expert cherry-picked his numbers, say Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Action Fund (CCI Action Fund) members.

“The total number of impaired waters in Iowa’s 2012 Integrated Report is 630, with 480 Section 303(d) waters [Category 5: impaired and TMDL needed] and 150 waters in Category 4 [impaired but TMDL not required],” says the “Iowa’s 2012 Impaired Water List” published in April 2013 and available here: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Portals/idnr/uploads/watermonitoring/impairedwaters/2012/Fact%20Sheet%20for%20final%202012%20list-final.pdf

Impaired waters with a TMDL – or Total Maximum Daily Load – clean-up plan are still polluted, and there is little to no funding available to implement water restoration efforts, so they must be included in any accurate list of impaired waters, CCI members say.

CCI Action Fund members say it is important the public knows the real number of polluted waters in Iowa and that the DNR shouldn’t use misleading numbers to confuse people.

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