We enjoy hosting visitors from District 63
and from around Iowa:
Pioneer Lawmakers Day
I was on the committee to escort the new inductees into the Pioneer Lawmakers organization. An elected representative or senator, whether still in office or not, is eligible to be in this organization if it has been 20 years since they were first elected.
Water Quality Lawsuit Could Impact Farmers
Agricultural stormwater discharge, or water coming from subsurface drainage tile on farm fields, is seen as coming from many different sources called non-point sources, which means it is from many different farm fields. It is now explicitly exempted from the federal Clean Water Act; as is irrigation return water which in many instances is also removed by subsurface drainage tiles. The Des Moines Water Works utility officially filed a lawsuit against Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties Monday, March 16, 2015. The lawsuit alleges the waters from the counties’ drainage districts “contain high nitrate concentrations that are almost entirely in groundwater and that pollution has since 1995 required the utility to operate its nitrate removal equipment 673 days with a recent spate of 97 days consecutive days.” The utility alleges that drainage tiles used to make farmland more productive “short-circuits natural conditions that otherwise keep nitrates from entering streams and rivers” and contributes to high levels of nitrates that make their way into the Raccoon River. It seeks damages, penalties and other relief in federal court.
Here’s some interesting perspective: While about 500,000 central Iowa residents rely on the Raccoon River for drinking water, and the cost to operate the nitrate removal equipment is reportedly ~$7,000 (though if one calculates the reported $540,000 over 97 days it comes to just under $5,600 per day) this expense amounts over the last 20 years to about just under $5-million or $250,000 per year or less on average of 50-cents per person per year. In contrast, the likely expense or lost income to farmers to treat 100% of the water which the utility uses less than 1%; is at least 100 times more costly and may even be a magnitude higher (approaching 1,000 times more costly).
It is also interesting to note that Des Moines Water Works’ own data show a downward trend of nitrates in the Raccoon River, going back to 2006. Progress continues with more water quality projects in targeted watersheds as well as farmers’ continued soil conservation cost-share projects and participation in Nutrient Reduction Strategy initiatives. In other areas than Des Moines, such as Cedar Rapids and Dubuque, there is cooperation between urban districts and farmers to tackle water quality issues.
The issue in the courts is whether tile drainage water is a ‘point source’ which would require a NPDES permit (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) or whether it is, as has been understood under the federal Clean Water Act, a ‘non-point’ pollution source. Also and more importantly: Does the federal law’s explicit exemption of agricultural stormwater runoff and irrigation/drainage return flow from being considered a ‘point source’ under the federal Clean Water Act remain as enacted and as stated in the United States Code? The crux of the situation is that if the court decides drainage tile is a point-source of pollution because it discharges from a pipe into regulated water, it would require a permit under federal law. That would have a huge impact on many farmers who use drainage tiles to farm. DNR Director Gipp noted that it would be difficult to implement.
At a recent meeting of the state Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) DNR Director Chuck Gipp indicated that the lawsuit between Des Moines Water Works and the three northwest Iowa counties could take up to a decade to be resolved and would likely make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. He was quoted in a Des Moines Register article published on March 18, 2015, that: “This is a hugely impactful case, no matter where you are on the issue.”
Battle for Private Property Rights
The House Government Oversight Committee has passed two bills that will protect property owners from eminent domain abuses. House Study Bill 222 passed on a party-line vote while House Study Bill 223 passed unanimously. Both bills now move on to the full House floor.
House Study Bill 222 – Electric Transmission Lines
This bill prohibits the construction of electric transmission lines, seeking to use eminent domain, if there are not substations at intervals of less than 50 miles apart. The bill will ensure that if a landowner’s property is going to be taken through eminent domain, they should have the opportunity to benefit from the transmission line, rather than it solely benefitting customers outside the State of Iowa. It provides guidance and removes subjectivity in the IUB process in handling petitions by merchant transmission companies that request the right of eminent domain as part of their petition for a transmission franchise.
This bill is designed to address the Rock Island Clean Line proposed project (RICL). RICL is a private, commercial venture that is assuming the risk for profit and loss. While eminent domain is a necessary and useful tool for public projects such as roads, bridges, schools and public utilities, it was not designed for private investment firms, developers and merchant transmission companies looking to make a profit. Therefore, they should also assume the risk of acquiring land to build the line and not be allowed to use government-forced eminent domain. According to a Des Moines Register poll in March of this year, 74% of Iowans are opposed to the use of eminent domain for the transmission line. HSB 222 passed the committee on a party-line vote of 5-4.
House Study Bill 223 – Eminent Domain for Drinking Water
This bill limits the amount of land that can be condemned for drinking water. The bill provides that for purposes of determining the number of acres justified as necessary for a lake as a surface drinking water source, the determination shall be limited to the needs of the population of the county where the lake is to be developed. This ensures that the power of eminent domain cannot be used to create a lake that is used for recreational purposes. The bill strikes a balance between good government uses of eminent domain, while also protecting private property owner rights. HSB 223 passed the committee unanimously by a vote of 9-0.
This bill is designed to address a situation near Osceola in Clarke County where local governments are seeking to use the power of eminent domain to condemn farmland to build a lake. Landowners are challenging whether the lake is a legitimate public use. Questions swirl around whether local governments just want the lake for drinking water or for an additional recreational use. To use the lake as a drinking water source would qualify as a legitimate public use and therefore the use of eminent domain is allowable. However to use the lake for recreational use does not qualify as a legitimate public use and therefore eminent domain is not allowed.
Preserving our Judeo-Christian nation and protecting your religious liberty!
National Day of Repentance
Kick off In God We Trust Campaign
Stand up for your Biblical Foundations
& Religious Liberties
A Call to Unceasing Prayer for Iowa & Our Nation
DATE: April 30, 2015
TIME: Noon to 1:30PM
WHERE: Capitol Rotunda
Uniting with National Governor’s Prayer Team; Concerned Women of America; Family Leader; Iowa For Jesus Network; Transformations Group; AGLOW; National Day of Prayer; National Day of Repentance; American Renewal Project and other faith based organizations (more details to come)
More Info contact - Ginny@CPCFoundation.com or call 641-223-0166
Feel free to contact me with ideas, thoughts, and concerns. My phone is 319-987-3021 or you can email me at email@example.com. I want to hear what you are thinking and will listen to your input. Together we will work to make a difference for the future of Iowa. Thank you very much for the honor of representing you!