A 10,000-head industrial cattle feedlot, being built in the watershed of Bloody Run Creek, an outstanding Iowa watershed in Clayton County, recently escaped prosecution for alleged water quality violations because the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) failed to live up to its name.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources recommended referring Walz Energy to the Iowa Attorney General, “due to serious violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, multiple illegal discharges to a water of the State, and a violation of its wastewater construction permit.”
But the EPC, meeting July 17 with only five of its nine members present, declined to act. A motion to call in the Attorney General died for lack of a second.
Environmental protection? Tell that to northeast Iowans who see Walz as a threat to Bloody Run, a premier trout stream, and to nearby Spook Cave, a popular tourist destination. Any pollution also would affect a much wider area, due to sinkholes and karst (fractured limestone) geology, which provide a direct pathway to the aquifer.
The Walz facility, billed as a renewable energy operation to convert manure and other organic waste into biogas, has been under construction since spring 2017. Work continued most of last year, although Walz did not receive the contested NPDES permit until January 2018.
How disappointing the EPC chose to ignore real environmental concerns, while accepting Walz Energy apologies, excuses and promises to do better.