More than 750 Iowa waterways are polluted with toxic algae blooms and signs that caution against recreational use. The problem: an over-saturation of factory farms. Iowa leads the nation in corporate farms, with 10,000 at last count, and potentially 5,000 more that DNR recently found via aerial images.
They produce billions of gallons of manure - too much for nature to purify by soil filtration. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear that this excessive raw waste flows into our waterways, carrying disease-causing E. coli and nitrates, potentially carcinogenic. That's important to those of us who are cancer survivors.
The DNR manages natural resources, and we logically expect them to value our environment and health. Yet for nearly two decades, experts and citizen groups have asked the DNR to set a moratorium on corporate farms and keep them farther away from water sources, but DNR refuses to budge.
As it turns out, the governor strategically appoints all members of the DNR oversight board, the Environmental Protection Commission. Some have conflicts of interest and backgrounds clearly at odds with water quality. The DNR should be accountable to all Iowa citizens - not just corporate agriculture. I am incredulous that I need to beg public officials to protect my water.
There is something we can do to counteract this alarming failure of oversight. As we move into the 2018 legislative session, demand that state leaders take unquestionable action. No more facades, like voluntary monitoring or "partnership" study committees. A moratorium and strict standards are urgently needed to fix the only water we will ever have.
Betty Salmon, Urbandale