Key legislators say there is not consensus on a bill that would reorganize the drinking water system in metro Des Moines, but it appears a statewide water quality initiative may get bipartisan support.
Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican Boone, has been working on that second bill, to set up a financing structure for water improvement projects.
“I think that one’s got more momentum behind it at this point in time and is a much more positive for the overall state of Iowa,” Baltimore says.
Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, says Baltimore’s bill is “very creative,” but Hall would like to see the state dedicate more dollars to water quality — by raising the state sales tax by three-eighths of a percent.
“Water quality is something that you see legislators on both sides of the aisle agreement: we need to discuss this,” Hall says. “It’s a serious issue for the state.”
Hall and Baltimore made their comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
House Republican Leader Chris Hagenow is from Windsor Heights, one of the suburbs that gets its drinking water from the Des Moines Water Works. Hagenow says a “regionalization” plan for drinking water systems in the Des Moines metro has run into problems.
“Obviously you get something like that, there’s a lot different ideas and people want to go different directions and we’ve been trying to reach consensus on that and haven’t gotten there yet,” Hagenow says.
On March 17th, a federal judge tossed out the Des Moines Waterworks lawsuit that had challenged three northwest Iowa counties. The bill to dismantle the independent utility and turn over management to city councils in the Des Moines metro has cleared committees in both the House and Senate, but must pass either the full House or 50-member Senate by this Friday to remain eligible for consideration this year.