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  • Environment & Weather
    USDA Launches Site to Provide Climate Information to Producers PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Environment & Weather
    Written by USDA Office of Communications   
    Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:41

    The USDA Climate Hubs web site was launched. The new site provides a portal for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, and others to find useful, practical information to help cope with the challenges and stressors caused by a changing climate. The site provides resources related to drought, fire risks, pests and diseases, climate variability, and heat stress, and links users to the network of USDA conservation programs and resources that provide producers with technical and financial assistance to manage risks.

    Each region also has its own site. For more information, see the "USDA Climate Hubs Website: Connecting Stakeholders to the Hubs" blog.

     
    Branstad, Reynolds, Northey and state officials submit comments on federal “Waters of the United States” proposed rule PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Environment & Weather
    Written by Office of the Governor of the State of Iowa   
    Monday, 20 October 2014 10:28

    Proposed federal rule will impose barriers to the advancement of innovative, state- and local-driven conservation practices that would advance our common goal of water quality

    (DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Secretary Bill Northey, along with relevant state leaders, today sent a letter and submitted comments to United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army for Civil Works Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy on the proposed “Waters of the United States” federal rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

    “The overriding concern of a diverse group of impacted stakeholders, including state leaders, is that the proposed rule will impose significant barriers to the advancement of innovative, state- and local-driven conservation and environmental practices that would actually advance our common goal of water quality,” the letter reads. “Because the proposed rule is fatally flawed, we request that it be withdrawn and that future rulemaking be appropriately coordinated with States and relevant stakeholders. We agree that clean water requires good, clear, well-designed regulations – unfortunately, the ones currently being proposed are not.”

    The letter outlines four key concerns from relevant stakeholders:

    Disregard for states’ lead role under the CWA to protect and promote water quality

    Section 101(b) of the CWA clearly states that, “it is the policy of the Congress to recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of States to prevent, reduce, and eliminate pollution, to plan the development and use (including restoration, preservation and enhancement) of land and water resources...”

    The proposed rule confuses Federal control with environmental protection. The State of Iowa believes that environmental protection is best driven locally.

    A disconnect between content and intent

    The Federal government’s proposed approach, and the content of the proposed rule, would seriously impair advancements in water quality in the State of Iowa. As an example, too many Iowa farmers would be forced to gain Federal permits to advance water quality infrastructure projects, which would discourage agricultural producers from undertaking the very projects that would improve water quality throughout the State.

    Increased uncertainty from the proposed federal rule

    The proposed rule increases, rather than decreases uncertainty for various stakeholders. The proposed rule is more ambiguous than current law and promises to be tied up in litigation for years to come, creating uncertainty within conservation interests, industries and communities across the state.

    Underestimation of costs of the burdensome proposed federal rule

    Permitting compliance costs will siphon finite resources that would better be used to advance conservation best practices and infrastructure in Iowa’s countryside. Permitting delays would also increase the costs of conservation and economic development projects.  Additional costs would impact public transportation projects, renewable energy projects, electricity distribution, disaster recovery projects, mitigation projects, and so on. Every day those projects are delayed has real costs that are currently unaccounted for by the Federal government. There would also be additional enforcement costs that current staffing levels at both the Federal and State levels are not positioned to meet. The rule as proposed would essentially be an unfunded mandate on State agencies tasked with CWA enforcement.

    The letter concludes, “The Federal government's proposed rule seems to be more concerned with asserting Federal control over local water bodies than actually improving local water quality. Thus, we were encouraged recently by the bipartisan support in the United States House of Representatives to block the advancement of this flawed rule. Those concerns were similarly echoed in a bipartisan fashion by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture members who unanimously called on the Federal government to withdraw the rule. We strongly urge you to listen to the consensus concerns of the States, including Iowa, and withdraw this rule.”

    The Director of Iowa Department of Natural Resources Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Debi Durham, Director of Iowa Department of Transportation Paul Trombino III, Chair of the Iowa Utilities Board Libby Jacobs and Director of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mark Schouten joined Branstad, Reynolds and Northey in signing the letter.

    State of Iowa leaders care deeply about water quality.  Since 2011, new General Fund appropriations for water quality related initiatives have increased by 26%.  In just the last two years (FY 14 and FY 15), over $50 million dollars were allocated to support water quality related state initiatives. This historic level of investment does not even include the cost-share dollars spent by farmers, landowners and communities on these efforts.

    The full letter can be read here. The enclosures from the letter can be read here.

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    Be Prepared for Colder Weather PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Environment & Weather
    Written by Jason Lee   
    Tuesday, 14 October 2014 08:36

    Aire Serv® has cold weather tips for HVAC systems

    WACO, Texas (Oct. 14, 2014) – October is here and that means cold weather is not far off. Before the cold days come to stay, it’s important to make sure furnaces are up the task of working all fall and winter and air conditioners are properly maintained and stored so they are ready for spring and summer. These tips from Aire Serv will help ensure both the furnace and air conditioner will be ready for the colder days ahead.

    The furnace

    Make sure the pilot light is working properly. Older style units usually have a pilot light that remains on the entire time. Newer style units tend to have pilot lights that only turn on when the furnace is running. With either type unit, make sure the area is cleaned and there is no debris near the pilot light that can potentially be a fire hazard.

    Heat pumps

    Coils of heat pumps that are blocked by ice will not run efficiently. The ice build up will block proper heat transfer between refrigerant and the outside air causing the system to not run at peak performance. Make sure to keep the heat pump clear of snow and ice.

    Air conditioning units

    Remove snow and other debris such as leaves away from the unit. This includes keeping the underneath side of the unit free of leaves and snow as well as the back of the unit that faces the house. Never remove snow or debris using sharp objects. Objects with sharp edges can easily damage unit fins and refrigerant coils.

    Check the guttering above the unit to ensure it drains properly and does not drip on the unit. Guttering that drops water on the unit needs to be replaced or repaired so that it drains properly.

    Check the unit to make sure it is level. A unit that is not level will not run properly. A unit may settle over time. If the ground has caused the unit to sink, contact a service professional so it can be properly leveled.

    Window units

    The best thing to do with window units is to remove them once the cooler weather starts. Once removed, properly store the window unit in a covered area like a garage. If it is not possible to remove the window unit, place a protective cover over the unit and make sure the area surrounding the window unit is properly sealed for the fall and winter months.

    About Aire Serv®:

    Established in 1992, Aire Serv is a global franchise organization providing installation, maintenance and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and indoor air quality systems. Recognized by Entrepreneur magazine among its “Franchise 500,” Aire Serv franchisees provide services to both residential and commercial customers from more than 180 locations worldwide. Aire Serv is a subsidiary of The Dwyer Group, Inc., family of service franchises. For more information or to find the location nearest you, visit AireServ.com.

    - ### -

     
    Iowa City VA Issues Statement on Water Safety PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Environment & Weather
    Written by Jon Pruett   
    Friday, 03 October 2014 14:50
    Status on water systems at the Iowa City VA Medical Center

    “The Iowa City VA Medical Center takes water safety very seriously, and maintains a higher standard of safety than most medical facilities – with more frequent testing and aggressive action taken to prevent contaminants from entering the medical center’s water system.

    The water system at the Iowa City VA Medical Center is safe. The main water supply has never been compromised with Legionella and there have been no cases of Legionnaire’s Disease reported at the Iowa City VA Medical Center.

    In May 2014, monthly testing found positive results for Legionella bacteria in small amounts and in isolated locations within the facility, not in its main water supply.

    Citing routine testing and mitigation steps, infectious disease experts at the Iowa City VA Health Care System found there was virtually no risk to patients, visitors, or employees. On the contrary, test findings validated that the VA water safety plan is working, and mitigates threats before there is a problem. Positive findings are a routine part of the water testing process.”

    A fact sheet on Iowa City VA HCS water system and general information about Legionella can be found online at: http://www.iowacity.va.gov/documents/IowaCityVA_LegionellaFacts.pdf

    For more information, call Jon Pruett at (319) 383-2738, or e-mail to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    -30-

     
    FALL ECOLOGY DAY - Wapsi River EE Center PDF Print E-mail
    News Releases - Environment & Weather
    Written by Dave Murcia   
    Tuesday, 30 September 2014 13:07

    Saturday October 4th, 9 A.M. – 5 P.M.

    Wapsi River EE Center

    31555 52nd Ave. , Dixon, IA 52745

    This year’s theme is WOODLAND WONDERS! Events and programs suit all ages. Family fun for everyone. Please call to sign your family up for this fun filled day (563-328-3286).

    9:00 A.M. to Noon ~ Woodland Wickiups ~ By using poles, lashings and Cattails, come help us build and learn how our Native Americans created these amazing living structures. Duties will suit all ages including pounding holes, string cutting, lashing poles, covering and decorating.

    12:00 – 1:00 ~ L U N C H ~ Lunch will be provided by the Friends of the Wapsi Center, Inc. Please bring a dish to share. Donations are welcome.

    1:00 – 2:00 ~ EAB, Coming to an Ash tree near you! ~ Do you have an ash tree? If so, you may want to learn the ABC’s of this invasive insect now known to be in several Iowa counties! The presentation will cover history, identification, biology, and current efforts to stop the spread.

    2:00 – 3:00 ~ Paper Making ~ Come learn how to recycle and make your own paper, and then decorate your creation with natural objects.

    3:00 – 4:00 ~ Woodland Tree Hike ~ Explore the Wapsi River woodlands with naturalist Mike Granger to learn about our native trees and how to identify them from leaves, buds and seeds.

    4:00 – 5:00 ~ Woodland Creatures ~ Come explore the world of woodland creatures found at the Wapsi River Center. The woods provide all of these animals with food and shelter, and learn how they live and thrive in a woodland ecosystem.

     
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