Iowa Department of Natural Resources to terminate proposal to weaken water quality standards in response to concerned Iowans

posted on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 in Council News

Emily Holley                                                                                               
Communications Director
Iowa Environmental Council
515-664-3405 (Cell)
515-244-1194, ext. 210 (Office)

Iowa Department of Natural Resources to terminate proposal to weaken water quality standards in response to concerned Iowans

Des Moines – In response to the concerns of the Iowa Environmental Council, other environmental groups and over 700 Iowans, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has announced its plans to terminate a proposed rule change that would significantly weaken Iowa’s water quality standards for recreational lakes, rivers and streams. As a result, the Single Sample Maximum E. coli bacteria standard will remain part of Iowa’s water quality standards.

Last July, IDNR proposed a rule to remove the Single Sample Maximum limit for E. Coli bacteria, which would have significantly decreased public health protections in lakes and rivers that generally have good water quality, but have a history of occasionally high spikes of bacteria that make recreation in the water unsafe on some days. “The change would have resulted in the removal of 29 lakes and rivers from Iowa’s impaired waters list,” said Susan Heathcote, water program director for the Iowa Environmental Council.  “The proposed change also would have eliminated the need for IDNR to identify the cause of the impairment and implement a restoration plan to reduce bacteria pollution so that the water is safe for people to enjoy.”

The Iowa Environmental Council and other environmental groups raised concerns about this proposed change and alerted the public. ”Thanks to the overwhelming response from the public voicing their strong opposition, the Single Sample Maximum will remain a part of Iowa’s water quality standards,” said Jennifer Terry, executive director of the Iowa Environmental Council. "IDNR will now continue to monitor for dangerous spikes in E. coli levels when measuring the water quality in all waters Iowans use for recreation."

IDNR will make its formal recommendation to keep the current E. coli water quality standards at the next Environmental Protection Commission meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. at DNR Field Office 5 at 7900 Hickman Road, Suite 200, Windsor Heights.  This meeting is open to the public.

For more information on the proposed rulemaking, including the Public Participation Responsiveness Summary, please view the water quality standards.


The Iowa Environmental Council is an alliance of diverse organizations and individuals working together to protect Iowa's natural environment. Founded in 1995, it is the largest and most comprehensive environmental coalition in the state. Through education, advocacy and coalition building, the Council raises awareness, generates action and creates large-scale change that makes Iowa a better place to live, work and explore.