Jan 06, 2009

Iowa Considers Water Quality Law Changes

State is taking steps to protect water from pollution and revise water quality standards

Iowa’s Humboldt County Board of Supervisors recently met with John Torbert, executive director of the Iowa Drainage District Association, West Des Moines, for an update on state measures that could affect area agriculture.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking at further ways to protect the state's waters from pollution, Torbert said. Farmers may soon have to take measures similar to those currently taken by businesses and industries to reduce water contamination.

"Drainage districts have had an exemption that exists in current legislation," Torbert said.

"The rules are not in place yet," Torbert said. Public hearings are still going on.

Iowa is also working to revise water quality standards.

Phosphorous and nitrogen are the state’s two main pollutants, Torbert said, and Iowa is nowhere close to meeting the proposed standards.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has directed the state to come up with new standards that will change the allowable levels of certain chemicals in our drinking water," Torbert said.

Solutions to reduce phosphorous levels are usually not compatible with solutions to reduce nitrogen levels.