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There are 5 beach advisories for the week of 7/9

5 Beaches with an E. coli-related Advisory:
Backbone Beach (Dundee, Delaware County, IA)
Emerson Bay Beach (Milford, Dickinson County, IA)
Lake Darling Beach (Brighton, Washington County, IA)
Lake Keomah Beach (Oskaloosa, Mahaska County, IA)
Prairie Rose Beach (Harlan, Shelby County, IA)
*Data from the Iowa DNR State Park Beach Monitoring Program

IEC Calls on DNR to Set Water Quality Standards for Nitrogen and Phosphorus in Triennial Review 

DNR declines to adopt numeric nutrient criteria despite multiple requests from IEC and others  

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently released its draft triennial review work plan. The federal Clean Water Act requires states to review their water quality standards at least once every three years to seek public input and evaluate what changes are needed. The work plan sets out the DNR’s priorities for water quality standards development over the next three years. The plan then undergoes required public hearings to gain input on the DNR’s plan. According to the DNR, the triennial review is “designed to be a tool for the public to have an active role in the state’s water quality standards program.”

Nutrient pollution (excess nitrogen and phosphorus) is the state’s most severe water quality problem, but, surprisingly, (or not surprisingly given the state’s stance on addressing nutrient pollution over the last decade), the DNR did not include nutrient pollution among its planned water quality standard work over the next three years. Currently, Iowa has narrative criteria for nutrients, which are inherently subjective and difficult to measure. For example, a lake cannot have “nuisance aquatic life” like algae, but how much is too much? There is nothing objective to measure against. 

With numeric nutrient criteria (NNC), DNR would establish numerical nitrogen and phosphorus limits for specific water bodies. Everyone could see how each waterbody compares to the standard. Last week, IEC and partner Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) submitted written comments asking for DNR to include NNC in the triennial review work plan.

This is not the first time IEC has asked DNR to include numeric nutrient criteria in its triennial review. IEC and other groups have been calling for the DNR to adopt NNC, particularly in Iowa lakes, for years. IEC and ELPC have twice petitioned the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC), a citizen board that oversees DNR, to direct DNR to begin developing numeric nutrient criteria. The EPC denied both petitions based on the DNR’s argument that the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) exists and should be given more time to work.


The Mississippi River Restoration and Resilience Initiative (MRRRI) is a federal funding program. The goal is to secure $300 to $350 million dollars per year in federal funding that would then come back to all of our 10 mainstem River states that are part of the coalition and are impacted by the river. The program seeks to restore the habitats and natural processes that contribute to the River’s resilient nature. Take action today to support MRRRI.


What if the NRS Actually Reduced Nutrient Pollution? 

IEC has released an updated analysis and corresponding policy recommendations showing that the pace and scale of conservation practice implementation continues to be insufficient to tackle Iowa’s nutrient pollution problem. According to data from the most recent Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) annual report, Iowa hasn’t managed to pick up the pace.

Read an overview of the report in our newsroom. 

Microcystin: What to Watch for When You're Swimming

It’s important to know the causes and risks of HABs in recreational waters.

Our newest video shares the economic and health impacts of HABs to Iowa business and families. Watch and share to help protect yourself and others you care about. Then subscribe to our YouTube channel to continue exploring our library and get access to the latest videos.

Tell your lawmakers to invest in a more resilient future for Iowans 

The science is clear — our climate is changing, and we need Congress to act now to help build a more equitable and resilient future for all Iowans. Extreme weather events such as flooding, heat, and drought affect all corners of our state. Now more than ever, Congress needs to come together to strengthen investments in our state's clean energy and natural infrastructure projects. 

Your voice matters. Tell your lawmakers to support critical investments in Iowa's infrastructure today. 


Share Your Summer with IEC on Instagram

Follow us at @iowawaterwatch

Photo by @ insatiablyfun1

Photo by @ halmasoverphoto


What's New in Iowa's Water News

•  Des Moines faces extreme measures to find clean water (KCCI) 
•  Safe for swimming? Pollution at our beaches and how to prevent it (Environment America) 
•  Area officials say drought good for water quality, has pros and cons for aquatic wildlife (Telegraph Herald) 
•  Iowa’s Environmental Council makes proposals to clean Iowa’s water ways (KWWL) 
•  Iowa’s dirty water is getting worse (Little Village Mag) 
•  Health Advisories At Some Iowa Lakes Dampen Outdoor Recreation Over July 4th Weekend (Iowa Public Radio) 
  Report: It May Take Thousands Of Years To Reach Some Nutrient Reduction Goals In Iowa (Iowa Public Radio) 
 Central Iowa leaders are investing millions in water trails. But can they overcome water-quality concerns? (Des Moines Register) 

Upcoming Water Events

Rockin' on the River - Cascade Amphitheater, Cascade - July 10
• Yoga by the Lake - Downtown Sea Wall, Clear Lake - July 10
Stand Up Paddleboarding - Annett Nature Center, Indianola - July 16
Iowa Project AWARE - Lacey-Keosauqua State Park - July 11-16
Black Hawk Lake Summer Water Carnival - Lake View - July 16-18
Paddle in the Park - Big Hollow Lake, Des Moines County - July 17
Pick-n-Paddle Iowa River - Iowa River, Louisa County - July 24
Paddlefest - Clear Lake - July 31
Great River Rumble - Various - July 31 - Aug. 7
Floatzilla - Quad Cities - Aug. 21
Paddle the Iowa - Amana Colonies - Aug. 21
Pro H2O 2021 - DSM & Satellite Locations - Sept. 16


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

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