Litigation is not the answer for water works case

Iowans have a history of working together to get things done. I think this is why so many Iowans are upset by the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) lawsuit against Iowa farmers in three rural counties. Litigation is not the way.

In reading a paper released by the Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (IPCW), it became increasingly clear to me that population growth, and not changes in nutrient levels, is the key driver of the need for additional treatment and infrastructure at DMWW.

Regarding nitrate levels, I believe the drought of 2012 followed by the rain events of 2013 were the contributing factors for the spike in the nitrate levels for DMWW. We need to keep in mind there are 7mg/L of naturally occurring nitrates in our states streams and the low flow of the streams in 2012 let nitrates become concentrated in the ground water and streams. Climatologists predicted it would take two to four years to replenish the ground water. In 2013 it rained and rained. Most of the states ground water was replenished by the end of 2013. Streams were flowing at or above normal and DMWW had a spike in nitrate levels.

Let’s not push burdensome regulations on our farmers, instead, let the farmers in this great state invest their time and money implementing our states Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The NRS is progressing and working but it takes time and resources for this program to continue.

While farmers continue to invest in conservation practices – like terraces, no-till, strip-till, cover crops, buffer strips, bio-reactors and wetlands, DMWW should invest their time and money on their infrastructure and facilities, not on a lawsuit. It is “a given” the demand for DMWW water will continue to increase as the Des Moines suburbs continue to grow. It is also true that Iowa farmers and agriculture will continue to be the driving force for Iowa’s economy and should not be stifled.

Water quality affects all of us and I would like to have us work together and not “draw a line in the sand” that tears us apart with divisive court cases.

RAY WILLHOITE

Wall Lake