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Lawsuit Over Hog Farm-Related Pollution in Raccoon River Will Move Forward

091219 532

A lawsuit challenging Iowa's management of fertilizer and hog farm pollution in rivers and streams will move forward. A judge has handed a significant victory to environmental groups.

Judge Robert Hanson in a ruling filed yesterday said Iowa Citizens For Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch may proceed to trial.   The groups say the state's policy of expanding hog farms and voluntary farm pollution controls is violating the rights of citizens to clean water in the Raccoon River for recreational and drinking water uses.

The lawsuit asks for the court to order mandatory limits on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, for a moratorium on new and expanding hog confinement facilities and a declaration that the state is violating its duty owed to the people of Iowa.

Iowa is the nation's leading pork producer with more than 23 million pigs on farms.

Iowa’s elected conservationists want to stop farmers from planting into streambanks. The state’s soil and water conservation district commissioners have approved a proposal to mandate 30-foot buffers along waterways.

Laura Krouse is a farmer and a member of the Linn County district. She says the practice of row cropping up to the edges of streams and rivers is jeopardizing water quality in the state.

The citizens of Iowa own the water. So the water running through that stream is for everybody. So I think we as citizens have a right to say, no, you can’t pollute this water in that way. We want you to fix it.

Stream buffers can help slow the spread of sediment, phosphorous and pesticides into waterways. The commissioners plan to lobby lawmakers next session to take up a bill mandating the practice.  

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