Iowa lawsuit pits voluntary conservation against increased regulations
<p>Alexandra Chase, left, research fellow with the National Sea Grant Law Center, University of Mississippi School of Law, discusses the Des Moines Water Works case at the Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference. Other speakers on the [panel were Ross Pifer, Center for Agricultural & Shale Law, Penn State Law; Peggy Kirk Hall, director, Agricultural & Resource Law Program, The Ohio State University; Rusty Rumley, senior staff attorney, National Agricultural Law Center, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture; and Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center.</p>
Some believe the issue is more a test of Iowa’s voluntary program to reduce runoff from its corn, cattle and hog farms vs. increased federal or state regulations.
The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit has attracted nationwide attention, including that of attorneys participating in the recent Mid-South Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference in Memphis, Tenn.
The lawsuit was filed by the Water Works Department for the City of Des Moines, Iowa, against 10 agricultural drainage districts in northwest Iowa. The latter are accused of sending high levels of nitrates down the Raccoon River and into the water treatment plant in Des Moines.
While the Des Moines Water Works is seeking damages to offset the $7,000 a day it says it spends at times to remove nitrates from the city’s drinking water, some believe the issue is more a test of Iowa’s voluntary program to reduce runoff from its corn, cattle and hog farms vs. increased federal or state regulations.