Study finds Iowa is biggest waste producer

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — The University of Iowa scientist conducted a first-ever analysis of fecal matter and found the amount produced in the state raises a big red flag for Iowa’s rivers and streams.

At Trowbridge Hall, engineers worked together to research environmental issues in the state. 

“I have a paper about livestock manure and nitrate levels in western Iowa streams,” UI Research Engineer Chris Jones said. 

Jones says those scientific papers can be hard to digest. He wants everyone to be able to understand the information so he created a blog. 

The most recent post “50 Shades of Brown” quickly circulated the agriculture community.  It goes into how livestock droppings can directly impact water quality. Through his research, Jones found at least 50 communities with contaminated drinking water.

“Nitrogen most often is in the nitrate form which is in a regulated drinking water contaminant,” said Jones.

It’s also bad for the environment. 

“These nutrients get to the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf of Mexico where they bloom. Of course, this affects the food chain,” Jones said.

Joe Dixon tries to fight the problem. He works with the Johnson County Soil and Conservation Commission through his job with the USDA to connect farmers to resources. 

“If somebody has a problem say with erosion or if they know that they have manure getting into a stream, say for example from a feedlot, we work with them and sign them up for various programs through both the state and federal government to provide the financial assistance,” Dixon said. 

They agree understanding the process will solve issues which Jones says is happening with this blog and it only adds a few minutes to his days of research. 

“It doesn’t take very long. So that I can go through those numbers in just a few hours,” Jones said.

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