Date: 3/12/2015 12:00:00 AM

Title: Legal action against counties will not spur cooperation

AMES, IOWA – The president of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association said he is disappointed with the decision by the quasi-public Des Moines Water Works to pursue legal action against drainage districts in Buena Vista, Sac and Calhoun counties. DMWW will file its suit in federal court this week.

“I find it hard to believe the DMWW actions are a true representation of how the majority of people of Des Moines feel about the situation. Reasonable people typically use lawsuits as a last resort instead of their first option,” said Phil Reemtsma, D.V.M. of DeWitt. “The money wasted in legal fees would be much better served if it were used to fund collaborative efforts by all parties to improve water quality in Iowa.”

Reemtsma’s approach is in stark contrast to that of DMWW Chairperson Graham Gillette, who stated that he believes that filing the lawsuit will allow the water utility to have a voice in the conversation. “We’ve sat at the table for 15 years and have not been allowed to speak. Today that changes,” Gillette said.

Facts prove Gillette wrong. Under previous leadership at the Des Moines Water Works, the utility worked with Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance in water quality monitoring and demonstration projects since 1999. (See page 9 of this report.)

“My understanding is water quality is improving in Iowa,” ICA President Reemtsma said. “Certainly we can do more, and we will do more. Iowa cattle producers have been at the forefront. The amount of money invested in environmentally friendly facilities on cattle operations in the past 5-7 years in Iowa is in the millions of dollars. The impact on water quality currently is difficult to quantify, but there is no question it has a positive impact on the environment and water quality; but we need to do a better job of telling this story to the general public.”

In recent years, ICA has prepared a decision-tree for cattle producers as they make decisions to protect water quality, and has provided information on how to report manure spills if they should happen.