Food & Water Watch and Iowa CCI Call for EPA Intervention in Iowa’s Water Pollution Crisis


Clean Water

For Immediate Release

Des Moines, IA — As environmentalists celebrated World Water Day this week, groups in Iowa took a different approach. Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) are calling on the leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to step in as continued legislative inaction on factory farm moratorium bills has left Iowans without legal protections to deal with the converging factory farm and water pollution crises in the state.

Animals confined in factory farms across Iowa are the leading cause of water pollution in the state. Industrial agriculture’s unchecked expansion has resulted in exploding numbers of factory farm operations — the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates that an average of 500 factory farms are added to the state each year. At the same time, Iowa’s residents struggle with contaminated drinking water and rivers and streams that are unsafe for recreation.

40% of private wells in the state were found to be contaminated with unsafe levels of bacteria, and over 200 of Iowa’s community water systems struggle to provide clean drinking water due to high nitrate levels. Given legislative inaction on bills to curb the development of factory farms known to drive this pollution, Food & Water Watch and Iowa CCI  call on the EPA for national intervention.

“For years, Iowa’s legislature has ignored the water pollution crisis we find ourselves in,” said Food & Water Watch Iowa Organizer Emma Schmit. “More interested in courting industry campaign donations than keeping our drinking water safe, our politicians have failed to use their power this session to curb factory farm expansion. We call on the EPA to act in their stead, and ramp up their inspections and enforcement efforts in our state.”

“Pollution from factory farms is impacting all Iowans — rural and urban, young and old, across race, gender and income status,” said Iowa CCI Organizer Abigail Landhuis. “It’s obvious that Governor Reynolds’ DNR is not interested in addressing our water crisis with urgency. We need the EPA to step in to take action and reduce the harms factory farms have on Iowa’s waterways.”  

The two groups are also pursuing a legal remedy for the factory farm and water pollution crises in Iowa. Food & Water Watch and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the State of Iowa for failing to protect the public use of the Raccoon River, elevating the river as a case study of the water pollution rampant throughout the state’s waterways. The case is currently with the Iowa Supreme Court.