A western Iowa farmer who Governor Branstad has appointed to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission took questions about water quality from a state senate committee this week. Ralph Lents is a farmer from Menlo in Guthrie County and senators asked Lents about the lawsuit filed against three northwest Iowa counties over nitrates from farm fields getting into the Des Moines drinking water supply.

“I know this lawsuit has farmers attention,” Lents said Wednesday. “Everybody is talking about it in the ag community and they’re all willing to step up and do something, but they just need a direction of what needs to happen.”

The lawsuit accuses county supervisors of mismanaging drainage districts, so that farm chemicals enter the Raccoon River through drainage tiles. Lents was asked what he might recommend to fix the problem.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to clean the water up, I know that,” Lents said. “As far as the answer to it, I don’t have an answer, but I am for cleaning the water up and farmers being environmental stewards of the land.”

A Senate committee this week approved Lents’ appointment. The full Senate may now vote and it requires the support of at least 34 senators for any of the governor’s appointees to state boards and commissions to be confirmed for those roles.