Public Hearing Monday on Bill Dismantling Des Moines Water Works

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowans will have the chance to make their voices heard Monday morning at the State Capitol regarding a bill that would dismantle Des Moines Water Works.

The bill, HF 484, would actually require the independent water utilities of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale to become city departments, controlled by the city government. Proposed by Iowa House Representative Jarad Klein (R-Keota), it was originally pitched as a way to consolidate water boards and replace them with regional authorities. The regional proposal was nixed, however, and now the bill simply dismantles these independent groups.

"This is a situation where dirty agriculture and the city of Des Moines City Council are working together to slap us back," said Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager, Bill Stowe. "We're not going to be slapped back, our lawsuit will not go away."

In 2015, Des Moines Water Works filed a federal lawsuit against three drainage districts in Northwestern Iowa, pointing to high nitrate levels in the run-off systems negatively affecting Metro-area water quality.

"This is clearly after us for our lawsuit and we're very concerned about it," Stowe said. "Water Works was set up 100 years ago with independence from the city. Now, the intention is to remove our entire governance structure, move us under the city."

But critics of the bill will have their chance to voice opposition Monday morning. A public hearing is scheduled from 10-11 a.m. in Room 103.

Public hearings for two other contentious bills will follow later in the day; a hearing on HF 295, which would nullify recent county decisions to raise minimum wage in some parts of the state, will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. After that, a hearing on HF 516, requiring a voter ID to participate in elections, will be held from 7-8:30 p.m.