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Senior Contributor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts


@WCMO wrote:

Litigation might speed up or force actions upriver, yet those actions might not be the most reasaonable nor economical solutions for everyone in the long run.

 


It could do that.  Although ordinarily, bare with me on this, lawsuits are paid for by someone who didn't do it.  If you did it, you could wind up going to jail.  IDK, farm run-off is kind of funny.  But, mind you, you could go to jail.

 

When they put people in jail for things like this, there is usually no connection between the crime and the time.  They will seek to put you in jail for the rest of your life because, well, basicly no one actually does the job we thought we were paying them to do...  The laws and the system == == they don't mesh.

 

And the clean water act.  That is a law which would put you up against criminal penalty.

 

 

Let's get back to law suits.  If you did it, someone else is probably going to pay for you.  Why?  Basically we need a sucker.  A way in which my assets are not threatened by the outcome.  Otherwise I will fight tooth and nail.  And you may win, but my only recourse is to now file more and more lawsuits to pay for the one which is foobar.

 

 

Lawsuits are not like criminal cases.  You do not have to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt.  And if we say nothing, polling the jury has the same odds as flipping a coin with only a minor advantage to the defendant.

 

 

So I mentioned that there are "laws".  Laws smaws.  I need damages.  If I say stop doing that -> and you say "it's not illegal", I can still sue you for damages.  That is what a lawsuit is.  Lawsuits are not like cars, you can't soup them up and have hotrod.  They are just lawsuits.

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Senior Contributor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

In any case it is the jury who decides.  So this situation is difficult?  How so?

 

It is the right of the jury to dismiss or affirm in the civil court.  In the criminal court there is "jury nullification", where the jury decides to set the evidence of guilt aside for whatever reason.  This is not the duty of public opinion but of THE JURY.

 

Lawsuits are not penalties.  Like "you did me wrong, now you get this punishment".  It is more like "this damage here is your responsiblity".

 

If somebody does wrong, well...

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Senior Contributor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

You know they are going to point at me and say "he's not being straight".  I'm not?  OK maybe not.

 

But the first thing they ask before any of this starts is "what's the cap?".  I'm capping at $50k because you are all noob to this and no one has expressed there is a greater industrial resolution taking hold.  $50k total per year.

 

If it comes back that this is hiest of some sort, I think I can get the money back.  Really.

 

It is true that if I am out of line, I will be executed.  You have to give me a willing fundee.  Heck if is more than this, I will probably try to have you killed in about a week or so.

 

Anyways, with a cap of $50k I feel we can play the game and nobody gets hurt.

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Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

At first , i am irritated by this bill stowe guy and the fact that nitrogen is expensive and we really don't want to waste it. But... what if we were limited (by statute) to 130# of annual nitrogen. Including all forms of fertilizer, manure and previous crop credit. (This is just an arbitrary number). the cost of nitrogen might come down from lower use, we would have to become WAY more effecient at using it , and show that we are being "proactive" and pushing the approach of "now what are you doing" onto municipal water treatment facilities. Which are possibly the big offenders.

 

This said, year in and year out , my best corn is almost always after fall applied nitrogen following soybeans.....

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

Ida  - Kind of like the chicken or egg thing - although our town of 1250 has the NDEQ on their tail 24/7 monitoring the city water supply with the water bill of the residents being as much or exceding the real estate taxes on their residence due to the cost of extracting N ---  

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

Actions like this possible suit will be one more impetus to huge farms that can afford lawyers and political action money.  These kinds of actions against the small farmer will drive him out of business at some time, maybe when the next generational transition occurs.   

This kind of suit would inevitably start dragging in more and more entities on both sides of the arguments, along with a number of other folks with interests that don't seem the same on the surface but who would fear the same kind of targeting.  So  - it would end up at the Supreme Court and more than once.

At this stage in the game, there is not much benefit for me to participate in any program that involves me giving others any data or rights on my land.  

An interesting side question is what would be the economic effect of reduction in ntirates so that the dead zone was affectee?  (I didn't say elminited, as we don't know that nitrates are the only cause.)  It may well be that the nation is better off with a big agriculture and tolerate some actions in other areas than to turn the midwest back into a buffalo commons.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2015/01/12/376139473/iowas-largest-city-sues-over-farm-fertilizer-r...

 

From an individual farmer quoted in above article, "We've got over a two-year waiting list of people waiting to put practices in place," -- it sounds like somebody needs to get to work on whittling down that waiting list.  The waiting list indicates some willingness and cooperation are present, so Is it a funding problem? political problem?

 

And -- looking only at the Des Moines nitrates issue, what would the costs be to eliminate the nitrate sources as compared to the known costs of filtering the municipal water supplies?  Probably a safe bet that it's more economical overall to spend the money on nitrate filtering.  Instead of spending city resources on litigation against counties, perhaps public resources would be better spent to assist specific locational nitrate source identification and alternatives for resolution?  What do municipalities do with the nitrates they've filtered out?

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

WCMO  - costs of filtering out nitrates being cheap - you might want to investigate that statement --- I have a producer in our area applying hog manure only without any commercial fertilizer on crop land and his nitrates keep escalating in his water well samples - expert advisors are perplexed ---   

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

k-289 -- not arguing with you, yet I did NOT say that filtering out the nitrates was "cheap".  I think the Des Moines article quoted something quite large.  And, I am obviously not in favor of rampant pollution -- I am in favor of doing what we can to reduce it, preferably in an economical and cooperative manner.  I am concerned about the litigation from Des Moines, and how that might impact actions of other municipalites both up and down river, from the standpoint of being a crop farmer and currently serving on a board in Missouri that would not be all that different from an Iowa drainage district.  Am simply curious about some perspective and cost comparisons -- how did we get where we are, why has it been allowed to get this far, who is actually responsible, what is actually appropriate for holding responsible parties accountable, and is it more economical to filter out the nitrates OR spend more multiple billions all up and down the river and tributaries on additional structures, potentially reduce grain production, add more legislation, more testing, more enforcement, etc., and still have (perhaps reduced?) cost of filtering.  From the articles I've been reading, ground water concentrations of nitrates might be more of a contibutor to the problems than previously thought, and the potential "fixes" for this problem are neither cheap nor quick.  It is probable that we need a combination of improved practices, structures to impound or slow down the water flow from both ground and surface sources, and more wetland areas -- and none of this is new information.

 

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es201221s

http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=3715#.VLVvRmd0yaE

 

So, how was a 21% reduction in nitrate levels achieved in the Illinois river?  reduction in livestock farms? enforcement of regulations?, changes in farming practices?  -- from the above article, "The reasons for increases or declines in annual nitrate levels are unknown. Reliable information on trends in contributing factors, such as fertilizer use, livestock waste, agricultural management practices, and wastewater treatment improvements, is needed to better understand what is causing increases or decreases in nitrate."

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Senior Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works to Sue Tile Drainage Districts

I am on the same page as I have participated in corn stalk analyis , vadose testing, isotope testing , irrigation sampling, etc. and I keep hearing it's commecial fertilzer and I need be more effectant while the feedlot accross the road has numbers through the roof ? When the DEQ mont. wells have clorides that nearly match the N readings from the lot and my irrgation well a 1/3 a mile away has litrealy no cholride -come on --- It would be apporpiate to  "MAN UP " on the responsability side instead of ignoring the problem here like we might wake up some morning and this will just fade into the sunset --- 3000 finisher cattle put out as much waste as a 30,000 population city and to think you won't have issues on a sandy - gravel soil type with depth to ground water at times less than 6 to 8 ft -is this rocket science ?  I have read on this site from someone that " my rights end where the others rights begin '' - pretty simple ---        

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