City of Atlantic balks at DNR required Nutrient Reduction Study


November 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A recent decision by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will require the City of Atlantic to conduct a Nutrient Reduction Study (NRS) as part of the DNR’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy to reduce the amount of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico which reduces oxygen levels and creates algae. Phosphorus and Nitrogen runoff into the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers are thought to be major contributors to the problem. City Administrator Doug Harris says the NRS will take about two-years, and cost the city anywhere from $15,000 to $200,000. Fox Engineering, which helped design Atlantic’s new wastewater treatment plant, said it could be done for $15,000.

The City conducted a similar study a few years ago, prior to the construction of its retention basin. Mayor Dave Jones says the DNR should look further downstream before asking Atlantic to spend its money on the study.

Harris said City’s along the river are easy targets for the DNR, when in reality most of the problem comes from farm run-off into the waterways. He says the City has do conduct the study in order to obtain the permits it needs, but it will be some time before it has to be done. He says because the wastewater treatment plant was just completed, there is a 10-year moratorium.

The City’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit required by the Clean Water Act, was just renewed following completion of the new plant. Mayor Jones says he doesn’t want the City to act on paying for a study until the Council hears in-person from officials with DNR. He said “Have ‘em bring the ‘Big Boys’ in, lets talk to ‘em. At least we’ll get our money of it anyway.”