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Iowa Supreme Court Rules Against Des Moines Water Works in Lawsuit

Court rules that it cannot collect damage payments in lawsuit against three Iowa county boards of supervisors.

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled against Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) in its attempt to pursue damage payments in its lawsuit against three Iowa County Boards of Supervisors. The northern Iowa counties are Calhoun, Buena Vista, and Sac counties.

The court released its ruling on Friday morning. Those drainage districts in these counties feed into the Raccoon River, the primary water source for Des Moines, Iowa.

“Our theory is that the drainage districts are point-source polluters under the Federal Clean Water Act and a nuisance under Iowa law,” said Bill Stowe, DMWW CEO in a previous interview with Successful Farming.

However, the court ruled against DMWW. One of the points in the ruling stated: “The least-cost avoider for removing nitrates from drinking water may well be the DMWW, which already bears the statutory obligation to provide safe water for its customers under the Safe Drinking Water Act and its Amendments, 42 U.S.C. 300f-300j. The DMWW does not claim otherwise and, indeed, itself at times has lawfully deposited back into the Raccoon River the very nitrates it removed.”

Another statement in the ruling: “It makes sense to limit litigation between public entities because the people of Iowa foot the bill for both sides. That is why the legislature enacted Iowa Code section 679A.19 to prohibit litigation between state departments, boards, and commissions.”

Instead, the court ruled the policy needs to be decided by Iowa lawmakers. You can read the decision here, courtesy of WHO television. 


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