Iowa Farmers Won a Water Pollution Lawsuit, But at What Cost?
Iowa Farmers Won a Water Pollution Lawsuit, But at What Cost?.
That leaves Des Moines Water Works, the utility that filed the lawsuit, and farmers in almost exactly the same place they were before they went to court: The utility faces bigger bills to remove farming-related chemicals from the Raccoon River, its source of drinking water, and the farmers still aren’t required to reduce pollution from their farms.
“The court’s ruling noted that this policy issue is left up to the Iowa legislature to resolve, but it didn’t happen this year, so we’re disappointed in that,” says Laura Sarcone, a spokeswoman for the Des Moines Water Works.
In Iowa, 92 percent of them are found in rivers and lakes and came from agriculture and other unregulated sources.
Meanwhile, the two Republican-controlled chambers of the legislature couldn’t agree on how to improve water quality, even though it was a top priority for outgoing Gov.
Kim Reynolds, who will succeed Branstad, said water quality “will continue to be a priority of mine” in next year’s legislative session.
The soybean association and the Des Moines Water Works do agree on at least one thing: the need for more data on water quality to be collected and published.
The utility, of course, is keeping close tabs on the level of nitrates in the Raccoon River.
Heavy rains have diluted the nitrates, and Des Moines only used its nitrate-removal system 65 days last year.
In May 2016, the level of nitrogen in the Gulf of Mexico was 12 percent higher than the average over the previous 25 years.