Critics Try to Drown Out Supporters of Water Bill That Impacts 500,000 Customers

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  After bringing signs and changing "Water is life," people who spoke at Monday's public hearing will soon find out if they can change the flow of a bill that would dismantle nearly a century of organization of the Des Moines Water Works and the way it serves nearly half a million customers.

The majority of people who spoke at a public hearing at the Iowa Statehouse opposed the dismantling of the Water Works board. Jess Mazour, an environmentalist with the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, said the changes to regionalize the water could bring safety concerns, and she won't forget those lawmakers who support it. "A mess," she called the aftereffects of the bill, and said, "you can bet I will not forget which of you voted for this bill."

Tom Cope, a Johnston City Council member who lobbies on behalf of West Des Moines, pushed back at critics and said, "This type of arrangement will guarantee safe water."

The proposal would dissolve the current five-member Water Works board appointed by the mayor and replace it with a 17-member board.

Read the bill here.

Des Moines Water Works filed a lawsuit in 2015 that sues three northern Iowa counties because of nitrates that flow down river into the metro's water supply. Critics contend the bill is retribution for that lawsuit.