Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and the inevitability of future events arriving

We all were warned by the demographers 20 years back that the boomers would stress the social security, pension, housing, and medical systems. Now it’s here. Similarly, rising atmospheric CO2 levels were the subject of a report I did back in the mid-1980s at the Institute of Technology. And here we are.

In the water world we have seen regulatory authorities slowly tighten the screws on urban and industrial sources. As the measures became tougher and the law of diminishing returns kicked in, the cost per unit of pollutant removal jumped. Municipalities pointed out the cost ineffectiveness a decade back. Then they went to full grumble over fairness. We all saw it coming a decade back as the basic human nature of wondering why one party has to apparently do more than another became more and more prominent.

A recent article in Governing describes how the debate about fairness between Urban and Rural has gone mainstream in Iowa. Des Moines has filed suit. Cedar Rapids is still following a non-regulatory, voluntary approach –in part because they have time to manage their problem. It’ll be interesting to see if Cedar Rapids can make enough progress with landowners who are hoping to avoid lawsuits like what landowners upstream of Des Moines’ are facing.

We’ve got time to watch this unfold.

Steve Woods