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Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Law

https://www.calt.iastate.edu/article/des-moines-board-water-works-trustees-files-lawsuit

 

The Des Moines Water Works suit against drainage districts alleges a number of different grievances.

 

It seeks to have farm tile defined as point sources, and thus subject to EPA regulations.  So far, Congress has not supported that definition.

 

From the Iowa State Center for Ag Law and Taxation

 

"Conclusion

DMWW appears to have filed this lawsuit because it believes that the Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have not done enough to regulate farm drainage tile. DMWW has been very vocal in stating that the voluntary Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy will not be effective. Three county boards of supervisors are the first direct targets of this advocacy. What DMWW seeks, however, is to change agricultural practices nationwide. It seeks a declaration that farm drainage tile is a public nuisance in its “normal and intended operation.” It seeks to compel federal and state agencies to rewrite their regulations and change their enforcement practices. This is a case of national significance. Even if the court dismisses the claims, the case will likely drag on for months, generating unfortunate animosity and costing thousands of dollars that could be spent implementing clean water solutions. The counties will likely file their answer in April. We’ll keep you updated."

 

 

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9 Replies
Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Sounds like they want to put tile oitlets into poit source category, which will drive permitting, analysis of the putflow, and most likely forced reductions of nutrients ( fertilizers) and chemicals.

That drives crop management decisions, and your land's productivity, into foced restrictions. In our waste management permitting, we cannot apply beyond the Realistic Yield Expectation's yield levels, unless we show a history of higher production. Difficult to do, when inputs are artificially limited. We get X pounds of N per acre,eriod...unless the farm has been placed onto P management. .then, you are really screwed.

Our animal stocking densities are set in stone by these permits. Our use of manure for soil amendment is set in stone by these permits. In leaner times, where each bushel isn't just profit anymore, but is a crucial part of trying to breakeven, limits on your use of inputs are not going to be helpful.

The EPA has been after redefinition of virtually every aspect of agriculture and other extractive industries. We are more attractive to their empire-building, because we are more pervasive across the map than activities like mining and forestry. More of the drive to get production ag off the continent.
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k-289
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

It seems I hear a lot of calls for ''sound science'' untill the science doesn't agree with ones philosify or business model  - then what or now what  ? 

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Csound scoence here in NC shows the vast majority of nutrient loading in the watersheds here -with our ten million or so hogs -comes from crop ag and munis. I do not know if they have broken that last one down into golf courses v sewage.

What's your point?
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k-289
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

 Seems the water tests from the tile lines and ditch drains are self explanitory --- Vadose soil testing is an option which many operations refuse to accept ? ?

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Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Simply curious Kay.  Do you have large numbers of small municipalities without effective sewage reatment that are techniclly discharging?  Over the past 10-20 years the state up here has been zealously pushing small communities into compliance.  At enormous local expense, even with considerable financial ssistance a low interest long term USDA loan funding. Many of those towns are low income on down to poverty bedroom communities.  What jobs there are exist in livestock facilities and food processing within a half hour drive.  Some better jobs a little further away, but with those jobs the worker can afford a little better housing situation closer to them. 

 

Point being is that those small town folks were told insistently that they were making a big contribution to the impairment of the waters of the state.  Now they are mostly fixed and the waters are still impaired....determined to continue to be "neither fishable or swmimable". The residents see around them the small farm operations disappearing and the remainder as nothing short of oppulent.The Grant Wood wall is coming down.

 

What I fully expect that we will get here is meeting rooms full of Cliven Bundys. Pleading improvrishment because corn isn't 8 dollars anymore and their property taxes have gone up. Gone up not due to rates but to valuations that thy participated in the increase of. Insistent tat any requirements put upon them to participate in a copreensive cleanup effort is an unconstitutional "taking".

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Nearest town " couldn't afford" a $50 sack of fescue seed, to fix its land app field twenty years ago...I heard their counsel say this while there to reoprt on a meeting., that was when I figured out I was better off staying at home, than stating the politically incorrect facts in black and white.

Next nearest town ( our post office location) had a sewer pipe discharging directly into the beautiful Roanoke River. Research showed it had probably been doing so for 27 years...and, each day is a separate offense.

One must ask: What took inspectors so long to notice?

As for who lives in each town, it's a pretty wide spread between the haves and have nots. Many in public housing. Not much middle class or working class in this county, and shrinking fast.

My position is a bit different from most of you. We sited these hog facilities under NRCS oversight...out of 100-year floodplain, lagoons passed inspection under construction, had comprehensive waste plans from Day One. We got harsher regs in 1996, about a year into receiving pigs here. This is, as I have said many times, the most regulated hog industry in the nation.

Along this path, NRCS ran a Phohorus Loss Assessment Tool on our soils and slopes. Our potential for any P discharge is very low to low. We have eight times the grassed open land required for our N uptake. There are 220 acres of our woodland buffering our operation from the test of the world, and thousands more adjoining it. I don't know anyone as well situated for raising hogs.

As for our relative tax burden:This county is charging us full rate on about $1.4 million, most of which is hog facilities and related infrastructure and equipment. Houses in general here are greatly undervalued, historically. That lets non-farmers off the hook, even though their kids use the schools, they call for public services of all kinds and we consume next to none. My mortality composter pays more taxes than the average home, and not one ounce of compost has left the shed, 2.5 years after we started operating it.

I have not one pang of guilt. We are doing above and beyond what is required, and have over 20 years of successful inspections on record to prove it. My hired man has a bigger mess in his yard than 14,000 pigs make on the back forty.

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k-289
Esteemed Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Kaye  -  your tennant must put out a tremendous amount of waste to equal 14,000 ?

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: Des Moines Water Works Wants Total Overhaul Of Ag Lawb

Not a tenant...our farm employee. You wouldn't believe the trash that they jas strewn under all that snow.
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