After over 20 years of meetings, letters, delays and public hearings, advocates for clean water gathered in Des Moines earlier this week to witness the final step in adopting clean water “anti-degradation” rules for Iowa.
But it wasn’t without some last theatrics.
Senator Merlin Bartz, moved to object the rules but could not garner the six votes required to scuttle the new rules.
“It’s time we heard some good news about water pollution in Iowa” said Brad Klein of the Environmental Law and Policy Centre.
“Protecting lakes and streams from further degradation is important to our state’s natural heritage as well as our tourism and recreation industries. An estimated 11,479 jobs, totalling $242.9 million in income and $424.9 million of gross state product are associated with spending by visitors to Iowa lakes alone,” said Wally Taylor, legal counsel for the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter.
With the passage of the Federal Clean Water Act in 1972 states were required to enact Antidegradatiion rules to prevent the further pollution of lakes, rivers and streams in the nation by 1985. Iowa adopted rules the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency informed Iowa that is rules violated federal law as early as 1997. Repeated delays in rewriting the rules led a coalition of environmental organizations – Iowa Environmental Council, Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Environmental Law & Policy Center – 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 last year. This weeks meeting of the legislative Administrative Rules and Review Committee marked what was the final step in the decade long process.