AP NEWS

Iowa commission rejects strict recreational lake standards

February 20, 2019

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa commission has rejected a proposal from two environmental groups to adopt stricter standards for the state’s nearly 160 recreational lakes, saying the effort would be too expensive.

The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission rejected the proposal Tuesday because of the $205 million estimated cost, The Des Moines Register reported.

The cost “per capita would be astronomical,” said Jon Tack, the water quality bureau chief for the state Department of Natural Resources. The improvements would cost almost $42,000 per person in the town Corydon, which has 1,500 residents.

The proposed upgrades to wastewater plants and other facilities would also likely do little to significantly improve water quality, Tack said.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center and Iowa Environmental Council filed the proposal in November.

The costs to meet the new standards shouldn’t be left solely to municipalities, said Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. Farming operations should also pitch in since they contribute nitrogen and phosphorus to water.

Mandelbaum noted the importance of the state’s lakes, which receive nearly 12 million visitors annually and generate $1.2 billion in spending.

“The proposed rules are designed to ... ensure that Iowa’s lakes are safe for swimming for generations,” Mandelbaum said. “They will prevent toxic algae blooms and reduce pollution.”

A state analysis found that 93 percent of the state’s lakes would be declared impaired with the proposed standards.

That percentage is troubling because nearly 40 of the state’s lakes and reservoirs are also a source of drinking water, Mandelbaum said.

“We are not protecting our lakes, and keeping them safe for kids and families to be in the water,” he said.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com