IOWA SUPREME COURT OPINION IN THE
DES MOINES WATERWORKS LAWSUIT
The Iowa Supreme Court answered four legal questions posed by the Federal District Court in the Des Moines Waterworks Lawsuit today. The opinion stated that Iowa law has provided immunity to drainage districts for over a century, especially as it relates to another public entity, the Des Moines Water Works.
The lawsuit was brought against the drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties in Northwest Iowa accusing them of contributing nitrates into the Raccoon River.
Iowa’s rural communities and farm families are used to rallying together to face tough challenges. Lawsuits and finger pointing are not the way we as Iowans come together. We as farmers, want the safest, best quality water for Iowa. The Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and our farmer-members will continue to use cooperation and collaboration in proactively solving our water quality issues.
The lawsuit is not yet over. While this is an important step in the lawsuit, it means good news for farmers. The legal issues in this lawsuit could restrict our ability to farm, both practically and economically. A favorable outcome in the lawsuit will allow us to continue to try new ways of improving soil and water conservation.
In answering the questions posed by the Federal Court, the Iowa Supreme Court said that “drainage districts have a limited targeted role – to facilitate the drainage of farmland in order to make it more productive. Accordingly, Iowa law has immunized drainage districts from damage claims for over a century. The immunity was reaffirmed unanimously by the Iowa Supreme Court four years ago.” (Page 3)
This opinion will then go back to the Federal Court to make a ruling on the remaining ten counts brought on by the Des Moines Water Works. Iowa Corn Growers Association will continue to invest and support both public and private partnerships to accelerate the adoption of water quality practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy as developed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Iowa State University.
For more information on how Iowa Corn is leading the way on water quality, go to www.iowacorn.org/water.
Editor’s Note: Kurt Hora farms near Washington in Washington County, raising corn and soybeans, and wean-to-finish hogs. A farmer for over 25 years, he uses precision ag technology and his crop production is certified ISO 9001; 2000.
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