In late summer, I would swim and stream-walk a small section of the Raccoon River. While sedimented for decades now, the water was clear in the shallows. For a few years now, the water is pea-green from edge-to-edge. For decades and worse now, this water has strongly contributed to a vast hypoxia zone in the Gulf.

In the 1980s, I wrote about the wisdom of the river, focusing on the Des Moines River as a living, very open metaphor for the essential streaming dynamic of the universe that is within us as well in the streaming of our body metabolism and thought.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Farmers Increase Blame On Others In Hopes It Will Stick

In the following Des Moines Register Letter to the Editor, it is clearly stated that farmers blame others for Iowa’s water problems.  They do this because they are trapped in an industrial ag model that is only going to create more water, soil and health problems in Iowa as well as contribute to national problems.  Requests for public $$$ for mitigation will not begin to touch the current levels of pollution and soil degradation.  This is because mitigation efforts due not address the basic design of Iowa ag with tiling that channels chemicals into the watershed and no change and almost guaranteed increase in chemical application and factory farms. [Kinseth]


Farmers know how nitrates are getting into Iowa's rivers
Mike Delaney, Des Moines, Letter to the Editor December 27, 2016

In response to the Dec. 21 article “Group: Growth in suburbs, not nitrate levels, driving Water Works upgrades,” farmers know their fields. They know how much nitrogen and phosphorus they are putting on their fields. They know that about 90 percent of the nitrate in Iowa rivers is coming from their fields.

However, they are trapped in an expensive high-input (GMO seed, herbicide, pesticide, nitrogen and hog manure), high-food system that requires very expensive equipment and a lot of acres in row crops to succeed. They have limited other options. Farmers may repeat the Farm Bureau lines about golf courses, lawn fertilizer, geese and the bad ol' Des Moines Water Works, but most of them know better.

A few political players are or were involved in the Farm Bureau front group called Iowa Partnership for Clean Water. Google it and you will find that there is almost nothing there. This is all about attacking Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe and those who are concerned about the health consequences of drinking high nitrate water. If the Farm Bureau can get control of the Des Moines Water Works by expanding the board to include suburbs or by passing legislation, they will then stop the lawsuit and deny the health risks.

Of course those of us who pay attention to Iowa rivers and lakes do not need nitrate level statistics to prove that Iowa waters are much more polluted than they were in the recent past. My family used to swim in the Raccoon River not that long ago. Hog manure, soil, nutrients and bacteria now make that a bad idea. I worried about the kids in the tubes floating down the North Raccoon River last summer. Folks are getting rashes and infections from the Raccoon nowadays. That is too bad.

Truth is getting hard to decipher currently. I pray that The Des Moines Register will continue to try to sort things out for the common good of Iowans.

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