- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines business group says it wants to find a solution to a water quality dispute that has prompted the city’s water utility to sue three rural counties.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership wants to bring together business, farming, water, environmental and legislative leaders to find resolutions to the state’s water quality issues. It has offered to help broker an agreement in the suit that was filed in March by Des Moines Water Works, The Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1RMvAyt ) reported.

Utility CEO Bill Stowe said any possible solutions need to significantly improve water quality in Iowa.

“We would be delighted to reach a settlement that better protects the waters of this state,” he said. “But it has to be substantive, it has to be resourced, it has to be enforceable, it has to be monitored, the data has to be public.”

The utility contends in its lawsuit that drainage districts in the counties act as conduits in moving nitrates from farm fields into a river, which serves as one of two sources of drinking water for an estimated 500,000 residents in the Des Moines metro area.

As a result, the utility says it has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to reduce nitrates to levels the federal government deems safe. The lawsuit is set to go before a federal judge next summer.

Some farm groups say they’re willing to come to the table to discuss solutions. They say that water quality is affected by the weather and naturally occurring nitrogen in Iowa’s soil.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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