Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey used his speech at a recent Republican Party fundraiser to blast the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit that raises questions about how farm chemical run-off is impacting water quality in the state.
“In spite of what you hear coming out of the metro area, most of the state is more engaged with each other, not finger pointing,” Northey said.
The lawsuit alleges ag drainage tiles in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac Counties in northwest Iowa are improperly managed, causing the Des Moines Water Works to spend money removing nitrates from the central Iowa drinking water supply. Northey said government regulation of those tile lines is “absolutely wrong” because farmers are voluntarily addressing water quality concerns.
“I see it as I get around the countryside and talk to our farmers and see them actively right now engaged in the water quality issue and spending their own money in times that are financially tight,” Northey said.
The CEO of the Des Moines Water Works says the voluntary strategy Northey has promoted for reducing nitrates in Iowa’s water isn’t working. The utility ran its nitrate removal equipment for a record 177 days last year to ensure the central Iowa drinking water supply was safe.
During a nine-minute speech at the Iowa GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner last Thursday evening, Northey said government “restrictions” from Democrats like President Obama are stifling all sorts of industries.
“There were a set of regulations came down from Washington, D.C. to fix all the bad things that the ‘big banks’ did. They screwed up life in some of our small banks, our Iowa-sized banks out here,” Northey said. “It’s made it more expensive. It’s made it such that they can’t serve their customers the same way.”
Current federal policy exempts agricultural run-off from Clean Water Act rules. The Des Moines Water Works’ lawsuit seeks to change that.