Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association
Supply · Service · Stewardship

Court To Decide Who Should Pay For Nitrate Cleanup In Iowa

A water provider escalated its fight against farmers last week, taking the battle over who should shoulder the costs of pollution before the highest court in Iowa, where nitrates from crop fertilizers have pitted the agriculture industry against water suppliers in a protracted water-quality battle.
The case brought by Des Moines Water Works asked the Iowa Supreme Court to decide ”whether agriculture drainage districts have immunity from lawsuits and whether the water utility can seek monetary damages,” the Associated Press reported. “Water Works says it spent $1.5 million last year alone to remove nitrate from water to meet federal health standards.”
If Des Moines Water Works is successful, the controversial lawsuit could bring more “oversight and accountability for districts overseen by Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties. Des Moines Water Works claims the drainage districts, established under Iowa law by counties to drain water from flat farm fields, operate as unchecked polluters by funneling nitrates and farm runoff that costs millions to remove into a main source of drinking water for central Iowans,” The Des Moines Register reported.
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