House GOP Targets Des Moines Water Works; Democrats Claim Retaliation for Lawsuit

Apr 26, 2016

The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties over nitrates in the water sparked debate in the Iowa House today.   

A rural lawmaker wants to expand representation on the Water Works Board of Trustees.

He says that’s in part because of the lawsuit alleging drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun, and Buena Vista counties are responsible for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon River.

Rep. Jared Klein (R-Keota) wants urban and rural areas surrounding Des Moines to have a seat at the table if the Water Works raises its rates. 

“I think the lawsuit is poor form,” Klein said.   "I don't think it's very Iowan to sue your neighbors up north.   We sit down and consider issues.  I wish that's what they would have done rather than just turn around and file a lawsuit."

One Democrat called Klein’s measure clear retaliation for the lawsuit.

“They want to punish the city of Des Moines,” said Rep. Brian Meyer (D-Des Moines.)  “It’s very clear they carved out a specific water works for this.”

The bill deals solely with the city of Des Moines.

A federal court trial in the suit initially set to begin in August has been delayed.  

The legislation is part of a catch-all appropriations bill approved by the GOP-controlled House.