Tag Archives: 4″ topsoil rule

1000 Friends Offers Topsoil Protection Toolkit & Update

Protecting topsoil is one of 1000 Friends of Iowa’s highest priorities. In 2015, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Commission gutted the requirement to maintain at least 4 inches of topsoil on residential construction sites. Because topsoil is so crucial for flood mitigation, carbon sequestering, filtering out pollutants to keep our water clean and for growing the pants and food we depend on;  we are turning to local communities to take action to protect our topsoil.

To help communities and Iowa residents take action to adopt topsoil restoration and protection ordinances, 1000 Friends of Iowa has created a handy toolkit with how to’s, talking points and sample ordinances that we like.

Congratulations to both the cities of Clive and Cedar Rapids for being the most recent communities to adopt topsoil restoration ordinances!

In 2017, we will reach out to additional communities around the state to adopt similar ordinances. Our soil is too precious not to.

Click here to download the toolkit

Click here to to see the Topsoil Restoration Guide from King County, WA

Click here to view the preliminary ordinance for the city of Clive

Let us know if you take this ordinance to your community by emailing us at kfoi@1000friendsofiowa.org 

Why it matters:

* Topsoil retention is very important to urban landscapes — growing plants need healthy soil. New homeowners with no topsoil left in place are often faced with very expensive soil remediation to even begin to establish healthy lawns, trees, and gardens. The savings to the building and construction industry (numbers that keep changing and are unsubstantiated) comes at a great cost to the homeowner and to the watershed.

* Rain events quickly wash fertilizers, also called nutrients, off lots that have been stripped of topsoil. This pollutes our rivers, lakes, and streams. Furthermore, it is costly for the landowner who must spend extra money for repeat fertilizer applications. Keeping soil in place contributes to natural storm water management solutions and helps build healthy, green, and more sustainable neighborhoods for future generations.

Stay updated on our topsoil protection actions at www.1000friendsofiowa.org.

Iowa communities moving forward with topsoil rules.

Protecting topsoil is one of 1000 Friends of Iowa’s highest priorities. Last fall, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Commission gutted the requirement to maintain at least 4 inches of topsoil on residential construction sites, and we are turning to individual communities to take action.

The City of Clive is in the process of passing an 8-inch topsoil rule. While we strongly support this proposal, there are builders who would like to create a loophole allowing them to avoid maintaining topsoil if they implement other storm water management solutions. Though utilizing additional storm water management solutions is a great idea, it is still critically important that builders maintain topsoil on the property.

The City of Clive is asking for people to make comments on the proposed rule. Go to the link below to voice your opinion on the City’s open forum. Look for “Soil health for construction projects.” The forum is open until 6 p.m. on April 15: http://www.cityofclive.com/government/clive-open-forum#peak_democracy 

We are also encouraging people to email the Clive City Council directly to support the requirement that topsoil be maintained on the property, even with additional storm water management systems. Find their emails at: http://www.cityofclive.com/government/city-clerk/boards-and-commissions/council-members

Please plan to attend the Clive City Council meeting on Thursday, April 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Some talking points for the topsoil protection rule:

  • We strongly support requiring that builders maintain 8 inches of topsoil on properties after the build. This rule will not only help to manage stormwater runoff, but it will also reduce water pollution and add value to the property.
  • Topsoil retention is very important to urban landscapes — growing plants need healthy soil. New homeowners with no topsoil left in place are often faced with very expensive soil remediation to even begin to establish healthy lawns, trees, and gardens.
  • We understand that scraping soil is part of the site preparation process, but instead of hauling away the soil that has been scraped off, it can be stock piled and spread out after construction is completed. The extra cost to the building and construction industry for keeping the soil on site are nominal compared to the costs to the homeowners, the watershed and our drinking water if it is removed.
  • When the soil is stripped away, homeowners often turn to fertilizers and chemical amendments to encourage plant growth. Wit no soil to soak into, these chemicals find their way into our waterways after rain events, polluting  our rivers, lakes, and streams.
  • It is costly for homeowners who must spend extra money for repeat fertilizer applications. Keeping soil in place contributes to natural storm water management solutions and helps build healthy, green, and more sustainable neighborhoods for future generations.

 

Tell EPC and legislators you support 4″ topsoil rule

In January the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) heard citizen and expert input on the importance of leaving 4″ of topsoil on development sites. The EPC has given notice of intended action to amend Chapter 64, revising General Permit No. 2. The changes leave a loophole for developers that 1000 Friends of Iowa wants to see closed. The EPC will hold three public hearings in March to discuss the proposed changes to General Permit No. 2.

The proposed change to the topsoil rule requires builders to replace topsoil “unless infeasible”. The proposed change is vague and would leave it to builders to decide how much, if any, topsoil to replace. With the current discussion about impaired waters, run-off, erosion, a nutrient reduction strategy and nitrates in our drinking water – the EPC needs to hear Iowans expect better.

If this rule is rendered ineffective or the EPC gets rid of the 4″ rule, individual cities may need to adopt the 4″ rule as city code – as Ames, Coralville and others already have. But Iowa needs uniform laws across the state to ensure our environment and natural resources are protected.

Once the EPC holds hearings and makes their final rule, the rule will advance to the legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee. Take the opportunity to contact your legislator – even if she/he is not on the Administrative Rules Review Committee – now while the legislature is in session! Tell your legislator about the impending rule and what you want to see happen – a uniform rule across Iowa requiring developers to leave 4 inches of topsoil on development sites.

To establish healthy landscapes, improve on-site storm water retention, lessen runoff and soil erosion, and improve water quality – we need to retain four inches of healthy soil. The opposition is well-funded and vocal. Make your voice heard! We need every Iowan to contact the EPC and legislators and tell them you support the 4″ topsoil requirement.

The public hearings are scheduled as follows:

March 18, 2015 – 6 p.m.
City Services Center
Five Seasons Conference Room
500 15th Avenue SW
Cedar Rapids

March 25, 2015 – 6 p.m.
Easter Ave. Branch Library
Room A
6000 Eastern Avenue
Davenport

March 27, 2015 – 1 p.m.
Wallace Building Auditorium
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines

If you are unable to attend one of the public hearings, comments may be submitted to the Storm Water Coordinator by mail, fax, orally or by email between March 10 & April 1, 2015.

Storm Water Coordinator
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Phone: 515-725-8417
Fax: 515-725-8202
Email: joe.griffin@dnr.iowa.gov

Additional information:

Administrative Rules Review Committee
EPC Notice of Intended Action
Additional background on the issue, including public comments, from the DNR

EPC meets tomorrow, Jan. 21 – 4″ topsoil rule needs your support!

The Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will meet tomorrow – Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. – to consider, among other agenda items, adoption of a new  topsoil rule to replace the existing 4″ topsoil requirement. The EPC needs to hear you support the 4″ topsoil rule. The meeting will take place at the DNR Wallace Building, 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines.

In September 2012, the Administrative Rules Review Committee of the Legislature enacted a rule calling for preservation of existing topsoil, up to 4″. In 2014, a group of builders and developers from the Des Moines area objected to the rule. They argued it was not economically or technologically feasible to preserve a given amount of topsoil. Members of the Executive Order (EO) 80 Stakeholder Group appointed to review the rule include five representatives of the building industry and just two who represent homeowners, water quality, soil restoration and the public. In an April, 2014 news release, the Sierra Club Iowa Chapter asked that additional stakeholders be added to the group. The request was ignored.

The EPC needs to hear from you. As an undeveloped area is changed to urban, commercial, or industrial use, natural cover is removed and the chance of erosion problems increases. The topsoil contains organic matter that absorbs water and reduces runoff to local streams as well as provides that water and nutrients to sustain a lawn. To establish healthy landscapes (lawn, gardens, native plantings, trees and shrubs), improve on-site storm water retention, lessen runoff and soil erosion, and improve water quality – we need to retain four inches of healthy soil.

Please plan to attend the meeting, or submit your comments by email prior to the meeting, and show your support for the 4″ topsoil rule!

What: EPC Meeting
When: January 21, 2015, 1:30 p.m.
Where: DNR Wallace Building, 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines, Iowa
Public Participation: Requests to speak during the business meeting must be submitted by email to Jerah.Sheets@dnr.iowa.gov, or in-person prior to the start of the business meeting. In submitting your request to speak, you’re asked to indicate who you are representing (yourself, an association, etc.), the agenda item of interest, and your position – For, Opposed, or Neutral. Comments may also be submitted via email for the public record.

Additional information:

EPC meeting information, agenda and materials
Additional background on the issue, including public comments, from the DNR