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After months of uncertainty, Reynolds Administration releases schedule for Agency rules review

Iowa DNR will spend three years reviewing more than 200 chapters of Administrative Code; addressing AFO rules in year one

Following the January announcement of Governor Reynolds’ Executive Order 10, the Administration released the schedule for state agencies, boards, and commissions to review rules in their respective sections of Iowa Administrative Code. The unexpected Executive Order, signed on January 10, 2023, placed a moratorium on any new rulemaking and requires state agencies, boards, and commissions to conduct reviews, repeals, and re-adoption of all rules, as part of the Governor's larger government reorganization plan.  

Administrative rules implement the laws enacted by the state legislature by describing the organization, procedure, or practices of a state agency, board, or commission. For example, if the legislature passed a law that created a grant program for Iowa schools to build rain gardens, the state agency administering the grant program would need to create rules for how that grant program operates, including the application process, distribution of funds, and reporting of outcomes. A list of the agencies, boards, and commissions with rulemaking authority and designated sections of Iowa Administrative Code can be found online

Since 2012, state law has required agencies to conduct rule reviews on a five-year cycle. The reviews are intended to identify and update or eliminate rules that are "outdated, redundant, or inconsistent or incompatible" with state law or other agency rules. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources implements and enforces more than 200 chapters of Iowa Administrative Code. The DNR was in the middle of reviewing rules for animal feeding operations (AFOs) on its regular five-year cycle when the Governor’s moratorium was announced, including several draft rule changes on AFO siting and flood protection brought forward by IEC and partner efforts in recent years.   

The new rule review schedule released by the administration will require DNR to repeal, rewrite, and implement those 200+ chapters of rules in the next three years. According to the schedule:

• in 2023, the agency will primarily focus on reviewing air quality, licenses and permits, and assistance program rules;
• this year DNR will also review Chapter 567-65, which contains rules for AFOs.
• DNR will review other rules related to water quality in 2024;
• DNR will review rules related to land quality in 2025.

More information about the review process, including the full timeline of agency reviews, is now online

When the moratorium was announced earlier this year, IEC was especially disappointed that the new draft AFO rules, which had been send to the Governor's office for pre-clearance in December, were put in jeopardy by this executive order. The Council is pleased to see it now included in on the DNR's schedule in the first year and looks forward to continuing to work with DNR to update the AFO rules in a timely fashion. "We’re glad to see the DNR has prioritized moving forward on the AFO rule package this year," said Alicia Vasto, Water Program Director for the Iowa Environmental Council. "Our team and coalition partners have worked for almost two years on the latest round of updates to the AFO rules. We’d like to see those changes get over the finish line."


IEC in DC as part of the Mississippi River Network (MRN) annual fly-in 

Water Program Director Alicia Vasto visited Washington, D.C. along with representatives from fifteen other organizations as part of MRN’s annual fly-in on March 7-9.

The three-day event included a farmer-led Rally for Resilience and march, followed by meetings with Congressional leaders. Alicia met with staff from Senator Grassley, Rep. Miller-Meeks, and Rep. Hinson’s offices. She also met with Rep. Zach Nunn and attended a Constituent Coffee with Senator Ernst.  

The group advocated for several Farm Bill priorities, including protection and expansion of the Conservation Stewardship Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative. We also asked for Congress to support the capacity of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to reach beginning and underserved farmers by protecting and increasing funding for Conservation Technical Assistance. 

Iowa Ideas In-Depth Drinking Water Week: March 20-24

As part of its Iowa Ideas conference, the Gazette is hosting a virtual "In-Depth Week" focused on drinking water later this month.

In-Depth Week is an opportunity to have solutions-focused discussion on complex issues within Iowa Ideas.

Register for the free online event to learn from experts about what Iowa has – and hasn’t – done to protect the vital resource that everyone needs.

IEC Water Program Director Alicia Vasto will speak during the Wednesday, March 22nd session on Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy Turns 10.

Other sessions include discussions on water quality policy, private wells, emerging contaminants, and public water treatment systems.  

Register for free online

State's new drought plan focuses on data and preparedness

The state of Iowa has a new drought plan, created over the past two years by several state agencies, including the Iowa DNR, reports the Iowa Capital Dispatch

The new plan has no mandates, but instead provides guidance for rural areas to boost water availability and help cities prepare for shortages. 

Droughts are predicted to become more common with the changing climate, and it’s important for water utilities, municipalities and residents be more aware of conservation methods and when and how to implement them, said Tim Hall, DNR hydrology resources coordinator. 

The plan calls for a new system to monitor and detect droughts by aggregating data already collected through a number of sources, including expanding county monitoring systems to cover all 99 counties in Iowa. 


What's new in Iowa's water news:

Upcoming water events:

• Turkey River Watershed Open House - West Union Library, Fayette Co. - March 15
Shell Rock River Watershed Open House - Nora Springs City Hall, Cerro Gordo/Floyd Co. - March 16
• Iowa Ideas In-Depth Week: Drinking Water - Virtual, March 20-24
• Urban Water Quality Listening Session: Sioux City - Woodbury Co. Extension Office - March 23
Make-and-Take Rain Barrel Workshop - Jester Park, Polk Co. - March 25
Friday Fundraiser: Iowa Environmental Council - Peace Tree Brewing, Des Moines - April 7
Rainwater Runoff: Rain Barrels to Raingardens - Jester Park, Polk Co. - April 12
IGWA Spring Conference - Indian Creek Nature Center, Linn Co. - April 13


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

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