Protecting Surface Waters in Agricultural Watersheds
William (Bill) Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works
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Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager of Des Moines Water Works [Des Moines, Iowa], spoke on the central Iowa utility’s mission to provide safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to 500,000 customers and the challenges faced in an agricultural watershed. Iowa’s EPA-mandated Nutrient Reduction Strategy states that 92% of total nitrogen sources are currently not regulated; however, the strategy to reduce nutrient pollutants by 45% has no timelines, commitments to measurements and relies on voluntarism. Iowa’s capital city’s drinking water utility recently filed a federal complaint against three upstream counties
in their capacities as trustees of 10 drainage districts, for the discharge of nitrate pollutants into the Raccoon River (the utility’s source water), and failure to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit in violation of the Clean Water Act. The complaint seeks to declare the named
drainage districts are “point sources,” not exempt from regulation, and are required to have a permit under federal and Iowa law, just as any other business that discharges in the waters of Iowa.