DMWWDes Moines Water Works
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DMWW officials also estimate that rising nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers will soon require a new Des Moines nitrate removal facility that could cost up to $193 million.
The complaint also alleges "the discharge of nitrate pollution into the Raccoon River by the Drainage Districts constitutes a nuisance, a trespass, negligence, an unconstitutional taking of rights secured to DMWW by the constitution and laws of the Unites States and the State of Iowa.
The DMWW lawsuit is the largest, loudest warning shot across the bow of agriculture," says Doug Gross, Corporate Counsel for the Agribusiness Association of Iowa (AAI).
While runoff, in general, is determined to be nonpoint source pollution, the DMWW argues that water captured in drainage tile buried 3- to 4-feet deep, is groundwater, not surface water, and therefore is not exempt from federal clean-water regulations.
According to the DMWW, runoff from tile-drained farmland is point-sourced and should be held to EPA standards, with farmers being required to have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to allow discharge into public waterways.
Also, as stated by the DMWW, testing since March shows nitrate levels in one drainage district were nearly four times the amount the federal government says is safe for drinking water.
There's no doubt the water war raging between the DMWW and Iowa agriculture may take years to resolve.