Monday, March 16, 2015

Des Moines to sue rural counties over water pollution; case could affect farmers nationwide

The urban vs. rural battle in Iowa over who is to blame for water pollution has led the Des Moines Water Works board to unanimously vote to file a federal suit against the northwestern counties of Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista, Timothy Meinch reports for The Des Moines Register. The move "could have far-reaching effects on how states approach water quality regulation." (Mother Jones graphic)

"Water Works officials and a crowd of supportive residents criticized the state's voluntary nutrient-reduction strategy for farmers," saying it is insufficient for protecting Iowa waterways, Meinch writes. The lawsuit "claims drainage districts act as a conduit, channeling fertilizer and manure between farm fields and waterways. Water Works officials said these districts should be regulated with special permits under the Clean Water Act."

"The Iowa Farm Bureau and 11 farm groups released a joint statement Tuesday calling Water Works' decision a 'startling disconnect from the scope and complexity of non-point water issues,'" Meinch writes. They wrote: "Merely enacting regulations will do nothing to improve water quality." (Read more)

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