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There are 12 beach advisories for the week of 7/28

11 Beaches with an E. coli Advisory: Backbone Beach (Dundee, Delaware County, IA)* Black Hawk Beach (Lake View, Sac County, IA)* Bob White Beach (Allerton, Wayne County, IA)* Emerson Bay Beach (West Okoboji Lake, Milford, Dickinson County, IA)* Lake Darling Beach (Brighton, Washington County, IA)* Lake Keomah Beach (Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, IA)* Lower Pine Lake Beach (Eldora, Hardin County, IA)* Nine Eagles Beach (Davis City, Decatur County, IA)* North Overlook Beach (Lake Red Rock, Pella, Marion County, IA)** Union Grove Beach (Gladbrook, Tama County, IA)* Whitebreast Beach (Lake Red Rock, Pella, Marion County, IA)**

1 Beach with a Microcystin Advisory: Brushy Creek Beach (Lehigh, Webster County, IA)*

3 City and County Beaches exceed the state’s advisory threshold for E. coli.* View the map on our website to see where they are.

*Data from the Iowa DNR State Park Beach Monitoring Program **Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District

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What is NNC and why does Iowa need it?

Nutrient pollution from fertilizer (excess nitrogen and phosphorus) is the state’s most severe water quality problem. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to set water quality standards limiting the amount of these types of pollutants and offers two approaches: narrative and numeric. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) currently uses narrative criteria for fertilizer pollution control, which is inherently subjective and impossible to measure.

For example, the Iowa DNR standard for a lake says that it cannot have “nuisance aquatic life” like algae. But how much algae rises to the level of a nuisance for you? For your kids? For a community that relies in water-related tourism? 

The alternative is numeric nutrient criteria. With numeric nutrient criteria (NNC), the Iowa DNR would establish numeric nitrogen and phosphorus limits for specific water bodies. This data-based method would make it possible to measure how each waterbody compares to the standard. 

Establishing NNC would provide numeric limits to measure against, and under the Clean Water Act could trigger actions to address and mitigate excess pollution in individual waterbodies that exceed those limits. Most importantly, the DNR should develop and implement NNC because the NRS is not actually reducing nutrient pollution. Iowa DNR has an opportunity to consider NNC in its upcoming Triennial Review for 2024-26.  


Brushy Creek Beach Algae Bloom

IEC staff traveled to the beach at Brushy Creek Recreation Area near Fort Dodge on Tuesday, July 25, to get pictures and video of the beach during its fourth week under a toxic microcystin advisory. It was disheartening to see this delightful recreation area and massive beachfront completely lined with algae, and the bloom displayed all the classic signs: crusty algae mats floating on the water, hints of bright blue, cloudy green water, clearer water with a green tint, algae clinging to the foot (and paw!) prints in the sand. Watch the reel posted on IEC's Iowa Water Watch Instagram page to see more images identifying what to watch for when an HAB is reported. 

A dead fish on the shore of Brushy Creek Beach

Crusty algae floats on top of clearer green water on Brushy Creek Beach

Algae on the water displaying a hint of the turquoise color sometimes seen 


See a suspected algae bloom? Report it to bloomWatch!

The EPA's bloomWatch app crowdsources reports of potential cyanobacteria, or algae, blooms so that you can help report potential blooms as develop. Download the free app to your smartphone, you can take pictures and provide descriptions of your findings that will help officials understand when and where these organisms may be causing issues to area waters.

Learn more about the bloomWatch app and start sharing your images today.

The social and physical science of Harmful Algal Blooms in freshwater 

Join the North Central Region Water Network for a webinar on freshwater HABs on Tuesday, August 2nd at 11am. 

Speakers Adam Heathcote and Katherine Canfield will discuss how lake physics and internal nutrient loading can create toxic blooms and how constituents are understanding and assessing HAB risk in freshwater. 

Register for this webinar here. 

Iowans share ideas to inspire climate dialogue with art

The Art of Climate Dialogue: Stories from Iowa, produced by EcoTheatre Lab, is a podcast series featuring conversations with Iowa artists, farmers, community organizers, activists and more who have used arts and storytelling strategies to talk about climate change and agriculture with friends, family, and neighbors.

Visit the website to hear from some voices familiar to IEC and Iowa's water and land community!


What's new in Iowa's water news:

• CDC report: People and animals are increasingly getting sick from toxic algae - (USA Today) 
• Editorial No water at the waterpark - (Storm Lake Times Pilot) 
How "Big Ag" pollutes America's water, and makes money doing it (The New Lede)
LTE: The real story of cover crop acres in Iowa (The Gazette)
• Manure handlers fined for spills during transport - (Iowa Capital Dispatch) 
• Solving water challenges is complex – learn how law, health, climate and Indigenous rights all intersect in developing solutions - (The Conversation) 

Upcoming water events:

River Float/Clean Up – Cerro Gordo Co. - July 29 
• Big Muddy Catfish Classic – Woodbury Co. - July 29 
• Introduction to White Water Kayaking – Linn Co. - July 30 - August 5  
• Summertime Fishing & Fun – Buena Vista Co. - August 1 
Lake Physics and Social Perspectives on Freshwater HABs - Virtual - August 2
• Nature Story Hour: Water – Marshall Co. - August 2 
• Cedar River Float – Chickasaw Co. - August 3 
• Sunset Eco Cruise – Clinton Co. - August 3
• West O Beer On Us Night - Supporting Iowa Lakeside Labs - Dickinson Co. - August 3
• Family Fishing Friday – Jones Co. - August 4


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

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