Having trouble viewing this email? View it in your web browser.

New report reveals the true costs Iowans are paying for CAFOs

Iowans are shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to treat their drinking water and pay for treatment of life-threatening health care issues caused by nitrate pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in the state, according to a new report published today by the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC).  

The report, The Costs of CAFOs: Impacts on Your Wallet and Your Health, reviews data in light of a cost-benefit analysis published for the first time by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the state agency that manages CAFO compliance in Iowa. The DNR compiled the cost-benefit analysis as part of the agency’s rule review mandated by Governor Kim Reynolds in January 2023.  

“It’s eye-opening to see what CAFOs are really costing Iowans, beyond just operator costs or what the oversight costs the DNR. Every Iowan is paying in some way for these operations – some more than others," said Alicia Vasto, Water Program Director for IEC.

The report looked at data and reports on drinking water costs, finding that if nitrogen pollution rates do not change, Iowans will spend up to $333 million dollars on nitrogen removal in drinking water systems the next five years. 

In addition to analyzing drinking water costs, economic impacts, and impacts to famers, the report also highlights healthcare costs for cancer treatment linked to nitrate exposure, as the Iowa Cancer Registry’s 2023 report found that the state ranked second in the nation for overall cancer incidence. That news comes as a growing body of research is indicating that the nitrate standard of 10 mg/l may not be protective enough of people’s health.

Attend a live webinar on Tuesday, 11/14, reviewing the data in the report


Water Issues in Iowa: Why Do Improvement Efforts Stagnate?

In a new guest blog post, Dr. Jackie Comito, director of ISU's Iowa Learning Farms, takes a deeper dive into the ILF's recently published Water Issues in Iowa survey, intended to take a snapshot of current attitudes and compare them to those from similar studies 10 and 15 years ago.

Survey findings showed that all age and social groups surveyed are only slightly more aware of water quality issues and causes than in previous surveys, and, more importantly, awareness of the problem has not released an outpouring of action. 

Read the blog post here, and view the entire Water Issues in Iowa report here.

EPA Gulf Hypoxia Task Force to convene next month

The entire state of Iowa is located within the Mississippi River basin, guiding all of Iowa’s runoff and water pollution into the Gulf of Mexico. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers in Iowa’s rivers and streams contribute to harmful algal blooms, habitat loss, and public health concerns in Iowa and downstream.

The EPA’s Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Hypoxia Task Force (HTF) will livestream its 38th public meeting from 1 - 4 PM on December 6. Virtual attendees may submit written comments to Katie Flahive

Register here by December 1 to participate in the meeting virtually. 

RDG releases stormwater publication ahead of session

Last month, our partners at RDG Planning & Design authored Redefining Resilience: Expanding the Approach to Stormwater Management, highlighting the influence of the Iowa Stormwater Management Manual (ISWMM) on community flood risk reduction and erosion control. 

Senate File 455, introduced in 2023, proposed restrictions on communities using ISWMM. The changes proposed would exacerbate flooding, erosion, and water contamination. The bill will be alive at the start of the 2024 legislative session; we anticipate the need to educate more legislators on the impacts and risks of bad community stormwater management. 

Welcome Sarah Howe to IEC's Water Program!

Sarah Howe joined IEC as a Communications & Advocacy Associate for the Water Program in October. Sarah is based in Iowa City and will support IEC's water communications and advocacy work. 

Sarah previously worked as a Planning Consultant for The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, where she authored municipal and county plans focused on environmental preservation. She also served as a Research Assistant with the Water Program's team of Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council to develop research on regional water utilities and equitable resource allocation.

In her free time, you can find Sarah reading, running, or playing with her dog, Poe.


Your Giving Tuesday Gift Protects Iowa's Water and Natural Spaces

Make a Giving Tuesday donation today or on Tuesday, Nov. 28. to help IEC meet a $15,000 match and put those dollars to work on water quality legislation, CAFO efforts, watchdog activities, legal oversight, and all of the critical advocacy work you rely on from IEC. Any amount makes a difference - give today!


What's new in Iowa's water news:

• What does Iowa water quality look like after 10 years with the Nutrient Reduction Strategy? (Iowa Public Radio)
• Study: Nitrate pollution disproportionately impacts Iowa’s vulnerable populations (The Gazette)
• Nitrate levels are often higher in the rural Midwest. How does this affect health? (Iowa Public Radio)
• More fall fertilizer use in Iowa could harm water quality (The Gazette)
• Millions of Rural Americans Rely on Private Wells. Few Regularly Test Their Water. (KFF Health News)
• Infrastructure money aims to bring better quality water to rural northwest Iowa (Iowa Public Radio)
High levels of ‘forever chemicals’ found in Tama’s water supply (KCRG)
• Gripped in 3-year drought, south Iowa city weighs using wastewater to bolster water supply (Des Moines Register)
Problems plaguing small outdoor recreation businesses explored at U.S. Senate hearing (Iowa Capital Dispatch)
• State regulators again consider permit for controversial cattle facility (Iowa Capital Dispatch)
• “What we’re up against” – North Dakota towns fight Farm Bureau to try to keep water clean (The New Lede)

Upcoming water events:

The True Cost of CAFOsWebinar 11/14
Central Iowa Water Works Online Info Session - Webinar 11/14
Iowa Nature Summit - Des Moines 11/16
• Best Development Award Nominations Deadline  - Des Moines 11/17
• Volunteer Day - Brush Management - Coon Rapids 11/18
Cancer & the Environment 101 Part 1: Environmental Exposure - Webinar 11/27
Ice Rod Building Workshop - Clinton County 11/29
IFU 2023 State Convention - Storm Lake 12/1
Scenes from Our Mighty Mississippi - Webinar 12/5
Tie a Jig, Catch a Fish - Night 1 - Linn County 12/5
Freshwater Mussels with Don Ohde - Linn County 12/8
The True Cost of CAFOs - Cedar Rapids 12/12
Tie a Jig, Catch a Fish - Night 2 - Linn County 1/16


Iowa Environmental Council
505 Fifth Ave., Suite 850 
 Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317
515-244-1194 | iecmail@iaenvironment.org

Unsubscribe or Manage Your Preferences