The draft of a state report detailing how agencies should regulate pollution from farms and sewage treatment plants includes passages apparently taken from Iowa Farm Bureau Federation publications.
The Des Moines Register reported Friday that at least two passages in the draft report appeared to be largely lifted from farm bureau publications.
Those passages dealt with a preference for voluntary approaches to prevent runoff pollution and the amount of pollution found in wells.
Some Iowa Department of Natural Resources staffers have objected to parts of the report about agricultural runoff that were prepared by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The DNR handled aspects dealing with sewage treatment proposals.
“We are not willing to endorse this document as written,” a group of DNR staffers wrote after reviewing the plan. “Major fundamental flaws permeate the ‘strategy’ while concrete ideas for implementation are not provided.”
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins noted the report isn’t completed and that the public will have a chance to comment on the proposal.
“This is the beginning, not the end,” Baskins said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 ordered Iowa to make the report to address concerns about pollution that ultimately flows into the Mississippi River.
The draft report dated Oct. 8 hasn’t been released, but the Register obtained a copy.
Gov. Terry Branstad, Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and EPA regional administrator Karl Brooks couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday or Thursday.
The report includes sections that appear to have been largely lifted from a farm bureau letter and pamphlet.
For example, a June 9, 2011, letter from a farm bureau staffer to an agriculture consulting firm about a different plan for the Raccoon River states:
“Conversion to nitrate does not equal loss; it just means the (nitrogen) is susceptible to loss. Clearly, these relationships are complex and largely dependent on weather. And while farmers take steps to manage these factors and minimize the potential for (nitrogen) loss, the cost for available management practices and their effectiveness varies.”
The draft report states:
“Conversion to nitrate does not equal loss. It simply means the nitrogen is susceptible to loss. These relationships are complex and largely dependent on weather. While farmers take steps to manage these factors and minimize the potential for nitrogen loss, the cost for available management practices and their effectiveness varies.”
Another part of the report dealing with contamination of wells has wording nearly identical to a farm bureau flier.
Ralph Rosenberg, executive director of the nonprofit Iowa Environmental Council, said the draft report should have attributed passages taken from elsewhere.
“It would be helpful for the public to know where specific recommendations come from,” Rosenberg said.