Iowa Public Beach Water Quality

Algae blooms in Lake Erie, Oct. 5, 2011. Photo Credit – NASA Earth Observatory

A person could post every year about water quality at Iowa state park beaches. The state fails to adequately reduce nutrient flow into public water. The source is primarily from fertilizer runoff, yet from other sources as well.

Last year I wrote about the president’s “environmental” speech in which he spoke of “toxic algae.” Turns out the algae blooms were getting too close for comfort to his Mar-a-Lago property, hence his interest. As usual, the speech was not about the concerns of regular people.

The only way to reduce nutrient inputs to our water system is by electing a state government willing to do so. It’s clear Republicans aren’t going to properly fund the Nutrient Reduction program or even the Department of Natural Resources which monitors water quality. To do something, we need to change our government and that means electing Democrats.

Nicole Welle covers water issues at the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research. Here’s a cross post of her latest blog about toxins near public beaches.

DNR Sets Stricter Water Quality Thresholds for Iowa Beaches
Nicole Welle | June 15, 2020

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) decided to follow stricter standards this summer for the amount of toxins found in the water at public beaches.

Microcystin is a toxin produced by cyanobacteria in algae blooms in Iowa’s lakes. It poses health threats to humans and animals that swim at beaches with high levels of the toxin and can cause abdominal pain, blistering, pneumonia and vomiting if ingested. Dogs have also died from being exposed to it, according to an Iowa Environmental Council news release.

In 2006, Iowa DNR began using a threshold of 20 micrograms per liter to issue beach advisories. However, they decided to lower it to 8 micrograms per liter this year after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended it.

The DNR currently monitors only a small percentage of Iowa’s recreational beaches, but they were able to issue a number of advisories and temporarily close beaches on Lake Macbride, Spirit Lake and Lake Rathbun last year when microcystin levels exceeded the threshold. The number of advisories issued this year is likely to be much higher than past years under the new guidelines.

~ Check out the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research blog by clicking here.

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2 Responses to Iowa Public Beach Water Quality

  1. C.A. says:

    On one hand, I am very glad that the IDNR is now going to start doing the right thing re beach advisories, instead of continuing to do the wrong thing. Thank you, IDNR.
    On the other hand, I’m not at all sure that the change would have happened if it weren’t for steady, polite, persistent lobbying by Iowa environmentalists, most especially by the Iowa Environmental Council, which deserves high marks for good work on water quality. Thank you, IEC!!! We have never needed you more.
    And by the way, anyone can join the IEC. Until we have a state government that cares a lot more about the environment than the state government we’ve got now, supporting the IEC is one way to help all forms of life in Iowa, from fish to butterflies to human babies.


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