Iowa Approves Clean Water Rules – ELPC’s Work Pays Off
Monday, February 8, 2010
On February 8, Iowa legislators approved statewide rules that will protect Iowa’s waters from pollution and stem the trend of declining water quality in Iowa’s lakes and streams.
“This is great news for Iowa,” said Brad Klein, Staff Attorney at ELPC. “After years of delay, the legislature made the choice today to protect Iowa’s environment and economy and make this a better place to live.”
A university of Iowa study found that an estimated 11,479 jobs, $242.9 million of income and $424.9 million of gross state product are associated with the spending by visitors to Iowa lakes. The rules provide additional protections for Iowa’s few remaining high-quality waters, for example West Lake Okoboji and several trout streams in Northeast Iowa.
After decades of meetings, letters, delays and, finally, a legal intervention, clean water advocates gathered at the statehouse in Des Moines this morning to witness the final meeting and decision needed to adopt clean water ―anti-degradation rules for Iowa.
Clean water advocates said today that the Iowa rules are long overdue and that they have worked for years to get antidegradation Rules written and passed in Iowa. With the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972 states were required to enact antidegradation rules by 1985 to prevent the further pollution of lakes, rivers and streams. Iowa adopted rules but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency informed Iowa that its rules violated federal law as early as 1997.
Repeated delays in rewriting the rules led a coalition of environmental organizations – the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Iowa Environmental Council, Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association and the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club – to file a Petition for Rulemaking with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in 2007 requesting that the State act immediately to adopt antidegradation implementation rules.
This action initiated a rule-making process that included several opportunities for public comment and a hearing before the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, which approved the revised rules in December of last year. Monday’s meeting of the legislative Administrative Rules and Review Committee marked the final step in a decades-long process.
Advocates stressed that the rules will allow Iowa to grow sensibly and sustainably. “These rules will stem the tide of declining water quality in Iowa, protect the outstanding jewels that remain, and serve as an economic engine for those communities with the foresight to protect and leverage the potential of these remarkable waters,” said Shannan Garretson, water program legal analyst for the non-profit Iowa Environmental Council.