1/22/15 Northey: DMWW Lawsuit Meeting

Iowa ag secretary Bill Northey held a meeting in Storm Lake Wednesday morning on the threatened lawsuit by the Des Moines Water Works against three area counties.

The Des Moines water utility claims the Buena Vista, Sac, and Calhoun County Boards of Supervisors aren’t properly managing drainage districts, resulting in excess nitrates in the Raccoon River, a source of drinking water for Des Moines. Northey says non-point sources of pollution… such as farm fields… haven’t been regulated, which is what the threatened lawsuit apparently intends to do.

Northey noted the Water Works hasn’t filed a lawsuit yet… but has given a 60-day notice of their intention to file. Iowa Drainage District Association lawyer Doug Struyk said the Des Moines Water Works wants to address the problem before filing the suit, which he expects would be filed in federal court.

Northey said Iowa farmers have made significant progress in reducing nitrates… and many options have been developed to combat the problem. He noted over four million dollars in state funds is available this year to help farmers begin to use cover crops and other methods… and the state recently received a three-and-a-half million dollar USDA grant for a regional conservation partnership.