Jake Slobe | February 6, 2017
This week’s On The Radio segment discusses the Iowa State Supreme Court ruling that ruled against Des Moines Water Works.
Transcript: The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled against Des Moines Water Works in its attempt to pursue damage payments from northwest Iowa county drainage districts.
This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.
The Supreme Court ruling was a blow to the Des Moines utility’s lawsuit claiming that underground drainage tiles in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties funnel high amounts of nitrate from farm fields into the Raccoon River.
Water Works hoped to reverse nearly a century of legal precedent that’s given the districts immunity from being sued for damages.
Water Works also wants to force drainage districts to seek permits under the federal Clean Water Act. It’s a move that would increase regulation for about 3,000 districts statewide. That portion of the lawsuit will still move forward toward a trial which will take place in June.
Farm groups celebrated the court’s decision to uphold the longstanding precedent. They said the lawsuit has been a distraction from their work to improve water quality.
Clean water advocates worried the decision would reduce pressure on lawmakers to create a substantial new funding source for water quality improvements and would decrease efforts to set goals for reducing nitrogen levels in Iowa rivers.
The lawsuit has added pressure to implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a voluntary plan to cut nitrogen and phosphorus levels by 45 percent from rural and urban areas.
To learn more about the lawsuit, visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.
From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.