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Iowa court ruling confirms drainage district immunity


February 6, 2017
By Gene Lucht Iowa Farmer Today

Iowa farm groups cheered a ruling issued last week by the Iowa Supreme Court that dealt a blow to the Des Moines Water Works in its lawsuit against three northwest Iowa drainage districts.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, is still scheduled to go to trial in late June, but farmers and farm leaders say the Jan. 27 ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court is an important one.

“I’m excited for the farmers of our county,” says Jolene Riessen, a farmer from Ida Grove whose family also farms in Sac County.

The lawsuit in question was filed by the Des Moines Water Works against drainage districts in Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties. It asked for damages and for injunctive rights against those drainage districts due to the presence of nitrates in the water of the Des Moines River.

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Des Moines Water Works operates a nitrate removal facility on water it takes from the river to provide drinking water to the Des Moines metro area.

A federal judge had sent four questions regarding state law to the Iowa Supreme Court. A plurality of the court found in favor of the drainage districts on all four points, according to Kristine Tidgren, an assistant director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation (CALT) at Iowa State University. | READ MORE


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