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April 3 - Dr. Chris Jones on the Factory Farming/Water Pollution Connection

Updated: Jan 20, 2021

Our Water At Risk

Wednesday, April 3 at 7:30 pm

Fairfield Public Library

Free - donations welcome

Iowa has some of the dirtiest waters in the country. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports 92% of nitrate and 80% of phosphorus pollution come from agriculture. But what is the direct connection between water pollution and CAFOs? New University of Iowa research now makes a quantifiable connection between the amount of fertilizer applied on fields – both commercial and livestock manure – and the levels of nitrates leaching into our waterways.

Lead researcher Dr. Chris Jones will talk about this connection during “Our Water At Risk” on Wednesday, April 3 at the Fairfield Public Library beginning at 7:30 pm. The meeting is organized by Jefferson County Farmers & Neighbors, Inc.

Dr. Jones, research engineer at the IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering at the University of Iowa, examined two watersheds in northwest Iowa and found farmers applying more than twice the fertilizer rate than Iowa State University recommends. These watersheds, the Floyd and Rock, are located in Sioux County, home of 472 CAFOs - the state’s largest concentration of medium and large factory farms. The watersheds drain into the Missouri River.

This study followed a June 2018 report Dr. Jones coauthored on Iowa’s contribution to the dead zone. He found that Iowa is leaching much higher levels of nitrates into the Mississippi River water basin than the other 30 states that comprise the basin. For example, Iowa contributed 55% of the nitrogen escaping into the Missouri River, which feeds into the Mississippi, even though the state’s land mass compromised only 3.3 percent of the total area and 12% of the water of the Missouri River watershed.

Dr. Jones will discuss these connections, what they mean for addressing our water pollution crisis, and how we can begin to get a handle on reversing this destructive trend.

Dr. Jones manages the University’s real time water quality sensor network at IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering that tracks conditions at 70 Iowa locations. His research focuses on nutrient and sediment transport and water monitoring in agricultural landscapes. His previously worked at Des Moines Water Works and Iowa Soybean Association. He holds a PhD in chemistry from Montana State University.

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