EcoWireNews for DNR


Water Summary Update: April rainfall helps improve drought conditions across the state U.S. Drought Monitor map showing drought conditions across Iowa

MEDIA CONTACT: Tim Hall at 515-452-6633 or

DES MOINES -- Consistent above-normal rainfall in April has improved overall drought conditions across the state, leading to increased river and stream levels, according to the latest Water Summary Update.

April’s preliminary statewide precipitation was 4.16 inches, or 0.49 inches above normal. At the end of April, Iowa’s Drought Plan showed overall drought conditions have improved statewide, with areas of northeast and southern Iowa continuing to carry a "drought watch" designation. For the first time in nearly two years, no areas in Iowa carry an "extreme drought" designation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Recent rainfall amounts indicate conditions may continue to improve throughout the spring.

April showed an average statewide temperature just over two degrees above normal. Five of the last seven months have been wetter than normal, resulting in improved streamflow and soil moisture, and reduction of drought coverage in Iowa. 

While the recent rainfall has led to an improvement in drought conditions, areas of the state continue to carry drought designations due to long-standing significant precipitation shortages over the past year. Some parts of Iowa have precipitation deficits nearly 7 inches below normal, and the state has now seen 209 consecutive weeks of dryness or drought conditions. 

“April is normally a wet month, so a wetter than normal April is certainly welcome.  Four years of drought will not be eliminated in just a month or two, but progress is being seen,” said Tim Hall, the DNR’s Hydrology Resources Coordinator. “We are in the critical months for water resources in Iowa, and a wetter than normal trend is encouraging.”

May through August normally brings half of the annual rainfall to the state, so the next few months are critical to long-term water resources in Iowa. 

For a thorough review of Iowa’s water resource trends, visit

The report is prepared by technical staff from Iowa DNR, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering, and the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department.


Iowa companies reduce pollution, improve air quality through college internship program

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Fiagle, DNR, at 515) 322-9928 or

DES MOINES – May 6 - 10 is Air Quality Awareness Week, and Iowa companies have a decades-long track record of reducing air emissions through improved manufacturing processes, the use of innovative energy-efficient equipment and more. 

One Iowa Department of Natural Resource (DNR) program that has made a difference is the Pollution Prevention Intern Program. College students are matched with top Iowa companies to identify cost-effective strategies that generate positive environmental results. Several projects focus on energy and waste reduction projects that contribute to better air quality. 

Since 2001, dozens of companies have saved more than $116.6 million through the internship program. These projects conserve energy and water, reduce hazardous material usage, divert waste from landfills, and reduce air emissions. Specific savings include:

  • 513 million kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to power 46,700 homes annually
  • 15,947 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (MTCO2e)*, comparable to removing 3,800 gasoline-powered cars from the road for one year
  • 23.7 million therms of energy
  • 6.06 billion gallons of water
  • 274,855 tons of solid and special waste
  • 10,242 tons of hazardous waste

*The potency of the various greenhouse gases differs, so greenhouse gas emissions are typically converted to a unit of measure called carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) that allows for better comparison of the impact of the different greenhouse gases.

Examples of projects include the installation of new HVAC, boiler and steam systems; increased motor efficiencies; water/wastewater treatment improvements; water use reductions, compressed air system improvements, solid/hazardous waste generation reduction and more.

“Our intern was able to dig into our systems and gather data that will help us make strategic decisions in the future,” said Ben Evans, Polaris Industries. “He was able to work independently and dedicate the time and resources to the system that we had historically lacked the band-width for in our day-to-day activities.”

Interns are often engineering or environmental science majors from Iowa’s public and private colleges. A new round of students will begin their internship projects this summer with several companies, including:

  • Ajinomoto, Eddyville
  • AE Dairy – Washout, Des Moines
  • AE Dairy – Product Loss, Des Moines
  • Burke Marketing Corporation – Hormel Foods, Nevada
  • CF Industries – Sergeant Bluff
  • Gelita – Sergeant Bluff
  • JBS Swift Pork – Ottumwa
  • JBS USA – LLC, Marshalltown
  • Kemin Industries – Des Moines
  • Woodward Resource Center – Woodward

To learn more about the Pollution Prevention Intern Program, go to:


Have a fun and safe summer on the water

MEDIA CONTACT: Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator, at 515-205-6845, or

**Todd Robertson will be available for interviews in the afternoon on May 9 and from 10 a.m. to noon on May 10.**

DES MOINES – Iowa rivers will soon be busy with paddlers, swimmers and people wading to search for fossils, rocks and driftwood or to clean up litter or explore a sandbar.

Rivers are dynamic systems that change with high flows and have obstacles hidden just beneath the water surface. Iowa rivers can have sudden drop-offs, holes, submerged shelves, foot holds and rock ledges. Current strength is often deceiving even for strong swimmers.

Some rivers in northwest, north-central  and central Iowa are swollen and swift with recent consistent rainfall. Stay on lakes and flat-water while the rivers are high.

Air temperatures may feel like summer but water temperatures are much cooler, especially below the surface. Cold water (below 70 degrees) reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Once your body is submerged in the cold water, your initial instinct is to survive. Within the first three to five minutes, your breathing becomes involuntarily uncontrollable. You begin gasping for air, hyperventilation starts, and panic sets in. You start to inhale water; it only takes half a cup of water for somebody to drown.

Water is refreshing and fun, but it’s essential to know how to stay safe in and around water to prevent accidental drownings. Drowning is swift and silent — there may be little splashing or cries for help. 

Follow these tips and precautions to keep you and your friends and family safe while having fun on the water this summer.

Swimming Safety

  • Don’t dive in; ease into the water slowly. 
  • Swim with a buddy.
  • If you haven’t swam in a long-time, refresh your abilities. All children should learn to swim with formal lessons.
  • Always wear a life jacket. Make sure kids wear their life jackets before getting in the water. 
  • Keep a close eye on others, especially children. Assign a designated adult to watch over children, and never assume someone else is watching them. Be close enough to touch the child at all times. Even in ankle deep water, the current can be strong enough to sweep you off your feet and out into deeper water.
  • Know the early symptoms of hypothermia, including shivering, blue lips, slurred speech or mumbling, drowsiness or very low energy or confusion.
  • Learn how to perform CPR. If you are already certified, learn the latest techniques and refresh your skills by recertifying. Check with your local hospital, workplace or doctor’s office for training opportunities.
  • Take a water bottle with you and keep it nearby throughout the day. It's easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you're active and sweating. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Early signs of dehydration can include dizziness, feeling lightheaded or nausea.

Paddling Safety

  • Always wear a properly fitted lifejacket. Kids under age 13 must wear a life jacket at all times. The vessel must have enough life jackets for all members on board. 
  • Paddle with a group, not by yourself
  • Tell a friend or loved one where you will be paddling, including what access to what access, and when you are expected to return. It will be easier to find you if you need help.
  • Avoid swimming, wading, paddling or boating near low-head dams. Often difficult to see from upstream, low-head dams have deadly recirculating currents. Watch for warning signs, listen for rushing water, and get out and scout when in doubt.
  • Stay clear of downed trees, bridge piers, scrap metal or clusters of rocks or concrete. Avoid wading in fast water. Look for known hazards that have been reported to DNR through their interactive river map at
  • Always know your river conditions before you go paddling. For the latest river conditions, contact Iowa DNR Customer Service at 515-725-8200 or your local county conservation board for updates.
  • Bring along a dry bag with a set of extra clothes you can change into if you get wet, a first-aid kit and a protected cell phone or weather radio. 
  • Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. Wear light, loose fitting clothing that dries quickly. Wear a hat, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen.

Find individual water trail maps, including access points at


DNR enforcement actions

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara McIntosh, DNR, at 515-901-3294 or 

DES MOINES – DNR staff work with individuals, businesses and communities to help them protect our natural resources by complying with state and federal laws. This approach is very effective. In the few cases where compliance cannot be achieved, the DNR issues enforcement actions. The following list summarizes recent enforcement actions. Find the entire, original orders on DNR’s website at 

Consent OrdersA consent order is issued as an alternative to issuing an administrative order. A consent order indicates that the DNR has voluntarily entered into a legally enforceable agreement with the other party.

Audubon County

Waspy’s Truck Wash, LLC

Comply with the treatment agreement effective April 7, 2016 or a new treatment agreement if one is accepted by the DNR; submit a plan of action to the DNR for approval that details a compliance plan to meet the treatment agreement's limits; and pay a $8,000 administrative penalty.

Chickasaw County

Brian and Carole Sipley

Attach a sign to the newly-installed flushing tank indicating that there is a "buried pipe below" or similar language to alert anyone digging in the area; construct a containment around the flush tank; update an emergency plan that details response protocols for tank leaks, ruptures, and other releases; and pay a $5,000 administrative penalty.

Jefferson County

Kenton Davis

Cease all illegal solid waste disposal; comply in the future with solid waste disposal laws; collect, containerize, and properly dispose of all solid waste remaining at the property; and pay a $2,000 stipulated administrative penalty.

Administrative Orders

Responsible parties have 60 days to appeal the order or 60 days to pay the penalty.


Air quality permits under review

MEDIA CONTACT: Marnie Stein, DNR, at 515-238-1887 or for Title V permits

DES MOINES – The DNR Air Quality Bureau has the following draft permits up for review. The permits help protect Iowans’ health and the air where we live. DNR’s permitting staff review the applications to ensure facilities comply with state and federal air quality standards. The public has the right and is encouraged to comment on draft permits. DNR considers public comments before finalizing the permits. Submit comments in writing to the assigned permit writer before 4:30 p.m. on the last day of the comment period.

Title V Operating Permits

Title V Operating permits are reviewed and re-issued every five years. Facilities with a Title V permit have the potential to emit large amounts of air pollutants compared to other facilities. The five-year reviews are a federal requirement and ensure adequate monitoring is included in the permit. The DNR plans to issue Title V Operating Permits for the following facilities.  Find permit details at or through the Iowa EASY Air Public Inquiry Portal and then click on the Public Notice tab.

Buchanan County

Bertch Cabinet, LLC-Legacy Division-Jesup located at 1230 12th St, Jesup

The application was submitted to operate their existing Wood Kitchen Cabinets facility. The public comment period ends June 8.

Linn County

Cargill, Incorporated, 1710 16th Street SE, Cedar Rapids.

This application was submitted to operate their existing corn wet milling facility. The public comment period ends June 7.

Woodbury County

MidAmerican Energy Co. - George Neal South located at 2761 Port Neal Circle, Salix, Iowa.

The application was submitted to operate their existing Electric Services facility. The public comment period ends June 8.