Standing room only for Driftless Water Defenders inaugural meeting

By Zach Jensen,

Recently-retired scientist Chris Jones addressed Decorah residents Saturday, June 15, in the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall on the issue of water quality. (Driftless Multimedia photo by Zach Jensen)

Nearly 200 Decorah area residents attended the inaugural meeting of the Driftless Water Defenders (DWD) Saturday, June 15, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church to listen to author, activist and retired scientist Chris Jones share what he knows about Iowa’s declining water quality.

Jones is the president of DWD, an Iowa non-profit corporation, which advocates, educates and litigates to defend Iowa citizens’ fundamental right to access clean water for their homes, businesses and recreational needs.

“Iowans have a fundamental right to clean water,” said Jones. “Iowa’s water quality is getting worse, and we need organized citizen involvement if we’re going to turn things around. DWD’s members will push forward with needed clean water advocacy.”

At the meeting, Jones described and answered questions about the deteriorating condition of lakes, aquifers, streams and rivers in Iowa’s Driftless area — some of which are becoming unsafe for drinking, fishing and swimming. 

High nitrate pollution levels have been linked by research scientists to various cancers and are directly harmful to wildlife. Information presented at the meeting said Iowa currently has the second highest rate of cancer of any U.S. state, and that cancer rate is rising faster than in any other state. Nitrate pollution feeds algae blooms, which kill fish and can poison humans with cyanotoxins. 

“The Driftless region has traditionally had some of the best-quality water in Iowa, but it is getting significantly worse and needs to be protected,” Jones said. He also said the state’s worsening water quality is a symptom of a larger problem which includes concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and manure management plans (MMPs). 

For more information, e-mail or call 319-541-4240. 

Rushford, MN meeting June 26

Responsible Ag in Karst Country will host an open house from 4 to 8 p.m., Wednesday, June 26, at Peterson Public School, 1000 Pine Meadows Lane, Rushford. Free nitrate screening will be available beginning at 4 p.m., and participants are encouraged to bring samples from their kitchen faucets in clean glass containers.


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Linda Janvrin
27 days ago

Too bad they weren’t concerned about water quality 30 years ago when waters were MUCH cleaner. Watched it decline for many years, nobody cared. Now it’s trendy to care!