Des Moines Water Works Case Dismissed in Federal District Court

Des Moines Water Works (WHO-HD)

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  A federal district court has officially released its ruling in the Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit.

All of Des Moines Water Works’ claims were dismissed, and the ruling states the “Iowa Legislature is the appropriate body to address the state’s water quality crisis,” according to a Water Works press release.

The case was filed in 2015 against supervisors in Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun Counties, alleging the drainage districts in these counties were responsible for high levels of nitrates in the Raccoon River.

CEO and General Manager Bill Stowe said, “We are disappointed in the ruling and the court’s unwillingness to recognize the profound water quality impacts that pollution from drainage districts has on Iowa waterways. Perhaps the state legislature should now spend its time addressing meaningful, long-term, sustainably-funded policy solutions to our serious water problems instead of meddling in affairs best left to local communities.”

Drainage districts will now have “no authority to redress Des Moines Water Works’ harm, thus the utility has no standing to sue the drainage districts.” However, it does not address whether agricultural drainage tile is a “point source.”

Stowe went on to say, “Water quality is an issue that we obviously take very seriously, and the outcome of the lawsuit will not change that. While many in the agriculture community took issue with the lawsuit, nobody objected to the facts that we presented in the case. Those facts still remain, and we must address them in a deliberate and meaningful way. In fact, Chief Justice Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court recognized in his opinion on January 27, that: ‘One of the fundamental principles of law is for remedies to be available when we discover wrongs. Pollution of our streams is a wrong, irrespective of its source or its cause.’”

The Board of Water Works Trustees now plans to review the options it has available.