The Iowa Soybean Association’s board of directors has voted unanimously to spend $150,000 to help Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties defend themselves against a federal lawsuit brought by the Des Moines Water Works.
Association CEO Kirk Leeds says the organization supports the three northwest Iowa counties because the suit could impact farmers statewide and this will bring a quicker end to the case.
“We ultimately think we’re going to be successful in throwing this case out,” Leeds says. “If you look around the country and certainly look around Iowa and the work we’re doing in Cedar Rapids, for example, it’s a great example of farmers and urban folks working together.”
He says the court action takes away from the cooperative and proactive approach farmers have taken on water quality and nutrient management. Leeds says, “It’s unfortunate because it certainly has distracted many of us from the work that was going on before and that continues but certainly at a distracted pace as relates to cleaning up the water and and improving nitrogen management.”
He says the suit is also hurting efforts by farmers and the utility itself from implementing programs and practices to address water quality. “It has taken dollars away from those programs, not only for farmers and farm organizations and the counties but also Des Moines Water Works,” Leeds says. “Before this is said and done, this first round in the lawsuit will have over $3 million invested in legal fees.”
That’s money he says could have been invested in improving the water works’ facilities and in helping farmers to make the needed changes. The lawsuit filed in March of 2015 charges the county supervisors allegedly allowed nitrates coming from 10 drainage districts to pollute the Raccoon River, a primary water source for 500,000 customers in Des Moines. The case is scheduled to go to trial in June of 2017.
(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)