A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit brought by Des Moines Water Works against drainage districts in three northwest Iowa counties. The suit, which drew national attention, was filed by the utility in 2015 claiming tile drainage systems in farm fields are responsible for funneling high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a source of drinking water for 500,000 central Iowa residents.
Federal Judge Leonard Strand on March 17 dismissed all claims against the drainage districts in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties, determining that Iowa’s water quality problems are an issue for the state legislature to resolve, not the court system…
The Des Moines utility sought to have drainage districts, and indirectly farmers, regulated under the federal Clean Water Act as a “point source” of pollution, similar to businesses and manufacturing plants. “Since the ruling concludes that Des Moines Water Works could not bring this lawsuit, the ruling does not address whether agricultural drainage tile is a point source as defined by the Clean Water Act,” notes Stowe. He says the Water Works board will now review its options.
Source: Wallaces Farmer