Apr 18, 2021 - News

Iowa Ag Secretary slams report naming Raccoon River "most endangered"

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig on Iowa PBS's Iowa Press. Screenshot courtesy of Iowa PBS

A national report that ranks the Raccoon River as one of the "most endangered" in the nation is "a bit of propaganda" that "is not based in fact," Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said in an Iowa PBS interview that aired Friday.

Why it matters: The river is the source of much of the metro’s water and has for years contained excessive levels of nitrates that have cost users millions of dollars to remove.

Context: The river’s pollution has been the subject of litigation and cited in ongoing calls for Iowa to scrap its voluntary approach to addressing agricultural runoff.

  • DSM Water Works CEO Ted Corrigan last week said we face a "catastrophe" unless we find a solution. (Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Iowa Press Moderator David Yepsen questioned Naig about how he could dismiss the American Rivers report, asking the secretary if he was "just a farm leader in Iowa blowing off environmental concerns?"

  • "Absolutely not. And that report itself, the way that those types of reports come out with no basis, they were nominated by an activist group in Iowa. It’s a fundraising plea for this organization," Naig responded.

Of note: Here's how American Rivers selects the which waterways go in the annual report.

The other side: "We're interested in solutions — a safe, clean drinking water supply and a healthier river — and that is what this report is about," Amy Souers Kober, a spokesperson for American Rivers, said in a statement to Axios.


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