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DNR releases draft 2018 impaired waters list, open for public comment

  • 11/14/2019 2:06:00 PM
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DES MOINES -- The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on the newly released draft impaired waters list. Data released by the Iowa DNR today shows 27 impairments are recommended to be removed from the 2018 impaired list, once approved by the EPA.

This report identifies surface waters that do not fully meet all applicable state water quality standards for their intended use and that need a water quality improvement plan. Of the 1,421 water segments studied, which include portions of rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands, 363 segments fully met the Iowa water quality standards for their intended use, while 523 segments were identified as waters in need of further investigation and 767 segments did not fully meet the standards needed for their intended use and were impaired.

“An increase or decrease in impaired waters does not necessarily mean that the water quality in the state is worsening or improving. It often is a reflection of the additional monitoring we are conducting, changes in water quality standards, and changes in assessment methodologies,” said Roger Bruner, supervisor of the DNR’s Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment section. “Impaired segments are often used for recreation and fishing, among other uses, so impairment doesn’t mean that the segments are unusable or that they necessarily will cause illnesses.” 

3-Step Process for Impaired Waters Study

The DNR uses fixed station river monitoring, lake monitoring and beach monitoring, wadeable stream biological monitoring, fish tissue monitoring and wetland/shallow lakes monitoring. Several other data are also analyzed before determining whether a water segment does or does not meet the requirements like the Iowa DNR’s Fish Kill Database, along with federal (Army Corps of Engineers and US Geological Survey) and municipal (drinking water supplies) data and surrounding states’ data. 

The department’s process is to compile all available credible data in the correct time frame. The data is then pulled together into a common format. Then the individual results are compared to the appropriate criteria. The assessment for each segment is a compilation of all these results (2,435 assessments in this report). 

All Iowa waters are designated for both aquatic life protection and water contact recreation. Others also may include one or both designations for drinking water and human health protection. 

“The DNR has a long history of working with Iowans across the state to help address our water quality challenges,” said Adam Schnieders, acting DNR Water Quality Bureau Chief. “The importance of this collective, persistent work is clear and will continue to be a priority for the DNR.”

Public comment is welcomed now through December 28, 2019 and should be sent to:

Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Attn: Dan KendallWater Quality Monitoring & Assessment Section
Wallace State Office Building
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Email

To obtain the recording or the transcript of the media conference call, please send a request to Alex Murphy, DNR Director of Communications at Alex.Murphy@dnr.iowa.gov.

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