Des Moines Water Works to Sue Three Iowa Counties for Water Contamination

This article is the third in a series of blog posts related to the record-high nitrate levels found in the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers. (The first two articles can be found here and here.) Bill Stowe, CEO of Des Moines Water Works, announced his plan in the Des Moines Register to file a lawsuit against three northern Iowa counties for polluting the state’s water supply.

Quick Facts About Nitrate

Nitrate is a compound that occurs naturally in the soil; however, hazardous concentrations of nitrate can make their way into the water due to fertilizer runoff and leakage from sewers and septic tanks. The main health risk associated with high levels of nitrates is blue baby syndrome, a potentially fatal oxygen-depriving disease that affects infants, pregnant women, and adults with reduced stomach acidity or certain enzyme deficiencies. Cancer and miscarriages have also been associated with dangerous nitrate levels.

When the nitrate levels were too high in 2013, Des Moines Water Works had no choice but to use the nitrate treatment facility for 74 days, costing ratepayers $900,000. After the record-breaking concentrations of nitrate found in the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers this past fall, the nitrate treatment facility has been in use since early December and costs about $4,000 a day to operate.

Des Moines Water Works’ Findings

Since March of 2014, Des Moines Water Works has been taking weekly samples of the Northern Raccoon River in Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun counties. They found consistent readings of high nitrate levels–60 mg/L–which is six times greater than the federal limit of 10 mg/L for drinking water.

Stowe said drainage districts, like the seven that operate in Sac County, need stricter state regulations in order to maintain safe drinking water for Iowans. Stowe along with chairman of the Board of Water Works Trustees Graham Gillette hope that pursuing litigation will engage Iowa’s government in a serious discussion about pollutants from agriculture degrading the water quality.

Gillette is quoted saying, “We foresee a time where we can’t invest enough money to clean the water. If we wait till that day comes, it’s too late.”

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

With all the day-to-day worries and stresses life brings, water quality concerns should not be one of them. We want families to live well and have confidence in the water they’re drinking. We set our own high standards of quality at Crystal Clear Water while complying with standards implemented by the International Bottled Water Association. Crystal Clear has ZERO nitrates due to our purification process. Our robust production process has been recognized with multiple Excellence in Manufacturing Awards. Additionally, our rigorous analysis ensures each drop of water is more than just safe to use and drink, but that it tastes great too.

We’re celebrating 40 years of providing Des Moines area homes and businesses with bottled water delivery, water filtration systems, water softener testing, and more. If you live or own a business in Ankeny, Ames, Carlisle, Clive, Norwalk, Indianola, Waukee, or West Des Moines, contact us today for residential and commercial water delivery and treatment services.