Iowa water quality initiative involves rural and urban stakeholders

Roger Wolf

Roger Wolf

An Iowa initiative is bringing urban and rural stakeholders together to improve water quality.

The initiative is called One Water.  Roger Wolf, director of Environmental Programs and Services with the Iowa Soybean Association says it’s bringing agriculture and Iowa cities together to find and fund water management and water quality solutions.

“We might be able to reduce a pound of nitrogen in the watershed for pennies on the dollars—and the cities are spending thousands of dollars per pound to remove a very small percentage of the nutrients,” Wolf says. “There might be an opportunity in that equation.”

AUDIO: Roger Wolf

One of the first projects in the One Water initiative is the Middle Cedar Partnership Project, which involves Iowa’s second largest city, Cedar Rapids, along with state and federal agencies and commodity and conservation groups.  The purpose, according to Cedar Rapids utilities director Steve Hershner, is to educate and encourage upstream farmers to implement conservation practices.

“Cedar Rapids has some very vested interests,” Hershner says. “We use a lot of soybeans and a lot of corn in Cedar Rapids’ industries and we know that’s part of our future.  So we want to do everything we can to make producers successful, but also help on those areas of water quantity and water quality.”

AUDIO: Steve Hershner

Wolf and Hershner were part of the Iowa Soybean Association’s Ag-Urban Partnership Symposium, a prelude to the ISA Research Conference.


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Veronica Lack

The former IDNR Director Leopold in a 2010 radio address stated his Non – Enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the 16 Iowa Drainage Laws had not affected the health of any Iowans, he was not counting the dead and suffering animals and people in this On-Going Plume from Mitchell County, and Downstream through Floyd, Butler, Bremer, and into Black Hawk Counties. Once the huge flood channel was built through the sinkholes on Dean Kleckner’s farm in 2003, Veronica had to charge Dean Kleckner with trespass and theft of her soils and her property line fence, and some trees. Dean Kleckner agreed to have Mayer Digging Company restore both Veronica’s soils and property line fence in the Disposition agreement the next day on 4/16/2003. This enraged the group of farmers who had no legal drainage outlet and they got the IDNR to charge Veronica with Blockage of Water. Dean Kleckner had said the Section 10 water had set over there and never drained to the sinkholes on his farmland in Section 11, but when the sinkholes in Section 10 were fed alot of runoff the water would flow up from his center sinkhole and drain back west to Section 10 and that he did not believe in digging ditches in this Karst Limestone very limited soil depth aquifer recharge area.

Then his farm was sold to the group that had hired Mayers Digging and the Bulldozer operator, Mark Wagner, that we and Dean Kleckner had stopped, and he had directed to restore my soils and fence to their prior levels, testified in court that Veronica was a woman and didn’t know anything and that he did not have to ask her permission to take her land to transition a channel. The group dug away about 42 acres of her farm, when she could not give them permission to dig any channel to drain their farm chemicals and feedlot runoff to the huge sinkholes in the Designated National Wetland, because her 404 Permit for Drainage stated she could not add even 10 more acres of her own farm’s drainage to the Designated National Wetland on James Ursbatch and the Martins and others’ parts of the Designated National Wetland. Mayers Digging Company did not get any 401 permit or follow the Corps of Engineer’s Agreement for Drainage that is recorded on my old farm’s Abstract as the Wetland Permitting is supposed to be recorded. The group of farmers wanting to drain parts of 9 sections of land then harassed me and just dug away 42 acres of my farm to build an illegal flood channel while members of my family were at the Mayo Clinic getting treatments for cancer and other health issues.

The Section 10 Cedar (W) Township group channeled Anhydrous Ammonia and CAFO Nitrogen fertilizers, very high levels of Lead, Herbicides (like Atrazine at 80 times the MCL) and Pesticides down those sinkholes into the aquifers our new wells were drawing from at a depth of 250 foot Downstream. Then the IDNR had told the Mitchell County Sanitarian to do Ammonia Nitrogen as N tests on my and my neighbors wells Downstream from the Mitchell County Illegal Drainage System. The tests ranged from the highest test results of 12.2 down still to very high results instead of the 0.000 result the test is supposed to read. But the Ammonia Nitrogen as N test results on our new wells drilled to avoid the upper aquifer, that was so heavily polluted, continued to be hidden from us Downstream.

We were not told to test for Ammonia Nitrogen as N but were told to keep testing for Nitrates and Bacteria and the IDNR told us to Chlorinate when our Bacteria tests went up not telling us that our Ammonia Nitrogen as N levels were off the charts.

When we chlorinated our wells, the dead piles of pigs got lots higher. And more Iowans were visiting the Mayo Clinic. But the IDNR keeps preventing access to well test data or even releasing the information that Big Oil Corps’ Anhydrous Ammonia Nitrogen fertilizer that is being Point Source Drained into our and Source Waters is also the main cause of the Dead Zones in the Gulf, after killing Iowans, and other US citizens on the way down to the Gulf.

The Attorney General’s Office attorneys I am in negotiations with at present say its TOO POLITICAL to admit we need to test our water for Ammonia Nitrogen as N because of Iowa’s Drainage Laws Not being enforced by the IDNR and the USDA-NRCS for the last 20 years. I, Veronica Lack, am one of the last, farmers to get a legal 404 Drainage Agreement with the Corps of Engineer’s Office back in 1995. And I applied for a 401 Permit from the IDNR over and over each time a flood was directed through my farm and I was made to spend over $150,000 of unfunded Conservation work to be in Compliance with that 404 Corps very Limited Drainage Agreement.

Still the IDNR does not warn Iowans in this Plume of High Nitrogen fertilizers especially Anhydrous Ammonia and CAFO Nitrogen, very water soluble, fertilizers to test for Ammonia Nitrogen as N, after big rain events or floods, and especially before you Chlorinate your Source Water which can create deadly Trihalomethanes if your public or private well is drawing water from a pollution Plume of high Nitrogen fertilizers.

Veronica Lack

Soy Beans are a nitrogen fixing crop but some non-sustainable farmers went to corn on corn and applying Anhydrous Ammonia and CAFO Nitrogen fertilizers on wetlands illegally being drained without getting 401 or 404 permits and building channels to drain these very water soluble fertilizers down into Iowa’s Aquifers in Mitchell County’s Aquifer Recharge area in 2003 – 2005. No Non-Point-Source Nutrient Reduction Strategies address any of this On-Going Point Source Plume from Mitchell County that contaminates wells Downstream through Floyd, Butler, Bremer, and in October of 2015 one of Waterloo Iowa’s city wells in Black Hawk County with the high Nitrogen fertilizer being Point Source polluted by some Mitchell County farmers. Iowa needs to enforce its Drainage Laws and the Clean Water Act on the Male farmers in Cedar (W) Township like it did on Veronica Lack a female farmer there who was made to have to get a 404 permit and 401 permits each time her farm was flooded to do over $150,000 in unfunded repairs to protect the Designated National Wetlands huge sinkholes that recharge the aquifers that the Iowa DNR kept telling us to drill to a deeper aquifer, but not telling us to test those deeper aquifers for Ammonia Nitrogen as N that indicates the levels of Anhydrous Ammonia being drained into our aquifers. The IDNR still however tells us to only test for Nitrates and Bacteria knowing full well that Ammonia Nitrogen as N and Chlorine don’t mix well and can cause deadly decontaminants like Trihalomethanes in our Source Water. The IDNR continues to tell private and public well owners to Chlorinate for the bacteria levels in this on-going Plume without testing for the Ammonia Nitrogen as N in the deeper aquifers we drilled to get away from the high Atrazine, lead, and arsenic that the Big Oil Corp Anhydrous Ammonia Nitrogen fertilizer that is building up to ever higher levels in the aquifers after some Mitchell County farmers built channels to outlet down into our aquifers so they could drain land they still have no legal drainage outlet for and and are the source of the Plume the Corps of Engineer’s had tried to prevent when the Corps denied them a 404 permit in 1981.

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