DES MOINES -- Federal environmental regulators have sharply criticized the state of Iowa for failure to enforce the Clean Water Act and gave the state 60 days to come up with a written plan to fix the problems.
The Environmental Protection Agency said in a report issued Thursday that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has failed to take timely enforcement actions against livestock facilities that violate the Clean Water Act and it did not assess adequate penalties in many cases.
The EPA also said Iowa's program is not sufficient to assess whether livestock operations need to obtain federal waste discharge permits. It said the state's inspection program is inadequate, and that Iowa failed to act in nearly half of the water quality violation cases against cattle farms that the EPA reviewed.
Staff cuts at the DNR since 2007 have prevented the agency from carrying out its responsibilities, the EPA determined.
Iowa has about 7,000 animal feeding operations and must have a process that complies with federal law and protects the quality of Iowa's rivers, lakes and streams, Karl Brooks, EPA Region 7 Administrator, said in a statement. He did note that the state has made progress, and the report listed several areas in which Iowa has addressed problems through legislation or policy changes.