The high-profile trial between the Des Moines Water Works and Iowa's Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista counties over nitrate levels in the Des Moines municipal water supply has been postponed from this August until next year.
According to a story in the Des Moines Register, court scheduling conflicts prompted the move; the trial is now scheduled for June 26, 2017.
The Des Moines Water Works filed the lawsuit in 2015, claiming that the rural counties of Sac, Calhoun and Buena Vista are responsible for excessive amounts of nitrates in the Raccoon River, thanks to nutrient runoff from bare fields, tile lines and poor nutrient management practices by farmers.
“The Safe Drinking Water Act says more than 10 mg of nitrates per liter is a human health risk, and rivers are at 14 (mg of nitrates per liter)," said Bill Stowe, CEO of the water utility in an interview concerning the lawsuit in January.
The counties involved in the suit want the case dismissed, arguing that farmers in those three counties contribute little of the total nitrates that need to be removed from the water supply.
The lawsuit has drawn local and national attention to nutrient management practices, which are voluntary in Iowa. Some believe farmers are adopting conservation farming and nutrient-loss reduction practices like never before.
“Folks who’ve never made a conservation effort put in cover crops and started using no-till or minimum till,” says Sac County, Iowa, farmer Brent Drey, who has spoken publicly about the case in the past.
Do you think the delay will help or hurt farmers involved in this case? Have you changed your nutrient management tactics as a result of this case? Let us know in the comments.