KC McGinnis | May 17, 2016
The Des Moines Water Works has decided to delay a trial to decide its lawsuit against three Iowa counties until 2017, according to The Des Moines Register. The trial has been rescheduled for June 26, 2017.
The trial was delayed due to an Iowa Supreme Court request to decide if drainage districts can be held accountable for damages. The Des Moines Water Works filed a suit against Calhoun, Buena Vista and Sac counties in 2015, attributing high nitrate levels to drainage from farm fields into the Raccoon River, which is a water supply for the Des Moines metro area. The utility argues that the above-normal nitrate levels forced it to spend $1.5 million to remove the pollutant — costs which were then passed on to Water Works customers.
The 2017 trial will address whether or not the utility has the authority sue the counties for a lack of regulation in agricultural areas, where farmers are recommended but not required to follow Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. It also allows more time for agricultural leaders to address the issue or to demonstrate whether or not current approaches are working. Nitrate levels in 2016 have so far exceeded those recorded in 2015 and 2014, according to the Iowa Water Quality Information System.