Water Works won’t appeal lawsuit, calls for bold laws

Water Works won’t appeal lawsuit, calls for bold laws.
DES MOINES — The Des Moines Water Works will not appeal a decision in a landmark Federal Clean Water case, the utility announced Wednesday morning.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa issued its ruling on March 17, dismissing all of Des Moines Water Works’ claims against the boards of supervisors in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties.
If the federal guys wanted to trump Iowa law, that would have probably been their only option to keep the suit going.
The lawsuit called for the drainage districts to take all necessary actions to comply with the Clean Water Act.
Water quality is an issue that we take very seriously, and the conclusion of the lawsuit will not change that,” said Bill Stowe, CEO of Des Moines Water Works.
The risks remain and demand immediate accountability to protect our state.” Stowe claims that the ruling dismissing the case did not dispute the assertion that drainage districts cause water quality problems in the river watershed.
Stowe added, “Policy and law must keep pace as public health and water quality concerns demonstrate both risk and cost to water consumers; that includes 100-year-old Iowa Code dealing with drainage districts and implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.” The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy estimates that 92 percent of nitrate in Iowa’s water comes from unregulated sources, namely agriculture, and 8 percent from regulated sources, such as sewer systems, Stowe said.
“We hope that, rather than wasting valuable time and resources crafting legislation designed to punish Des Moines Water Works for filing the lawsuit, our legislators can create bold laws that address water pollution,” Stowe said.
“I can only speak for the farmer side of it.

Des Moines Water Works won’t appeal lawsuit

Kelsey Kremer/The Register Des Moines Water Works will not appeal a federal judge’s decision to dismiss the utility’s lawsuit against 10 northern Iowa drainage districts over high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River. The Water Works Board of Trustees unanimously made the decision Tuesday, ending a more-than-two-year legal battle. “Central Iowa will continue to be burdened with expensive, serious and escalating water pollution problems,” Water Works CEO Bill Stowe said in a news release. “The lawsuit was an attempt to protect our ratepayers, whose public health and quality of life continue to be impacted by unregulated industrial agriculture.” Des Moines Water Works filed a federal lawsuit in March 2015, claiming drainage districts in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties were funneling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a source of drinking water for 500,000 central Iowa residents. The board agreed to spend $1.35 million to pursue the lawsuit. “The board views these resources would be better spent finding other avenues to pursue environmental protection rather than legal action, like trying to affect public policy through lobbying,” Stowe said. The lawsuit contended that drainage tiles used to make farmland more productive were short-circuiting natural conditions that otherwise keep nitrates from entering streams and rivers. The utility sought damages and penalties for the costs it incurred removing nitrates from central Iowa drinking water. Water Works said it spent $1.2 million to operate its nitrate removal equipment in 2015. It also sought to have…