IEC Reacts to Supreme Court Decision on Protecting Iowa Water

posted on Friday, June 18, 2021 in Water and Land News

IEC Statement on Supreme Court decision in Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food & Water Watch case 

Today the Iowa Supreme Court reversed a decision by a lower court that allowed a lawsuit by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food &Water Watch to proceed. IEC is disappointed that a narrow majority of the Iowa Supreme Court decided not to allow the case to  move forward. The decision will limit Iowans from seeking relief when our shared public resources are polluted. It maintains the status quo – polluted water that is getting worse, not better, and state leadership that is unwilling to take meaningful action. 

“The dissents pointed out that the issue before the court was whether the plaintiffs could bring this claim at all, not whether they would succeed on the merits,” said Michael Schmidt, IEC Staff Attorney. “The decision will reduce the ability of Iowa courts to correct environmental harms in the future.” 

“If the case had proceeded, the plaintiffs could have shown a wide range of water quality problems that limit the public’s ability to use our waters,” said Ingrid Gronstal, Water Quality Program Director. “The court concluded the legislature is responsible for taking action to address our water quality problems. The legislature must act to protect the Raccoon River, and all of Iowa's waterways, for the use and benefit of all Iowans. This principle was at the core of the complaint.”  

IEC has highlighted the inadequacies of the Nutrient Reduction Strategy at issue in the case, recently publishing an analysis and policy recommendations. The recommendations include a rebalancing of public and private rights. “By prioritizing private rights over the public, we make the public pay for or tolerate the water pollution that flows downstream,” said Gronstal. “The state's  reliance on the Nutrient Reduction Strategy is misplaced. We need a new approach to make any progress.” 

  1. clean water
  2. clean water act
  3. iowa legislature
  4. nitrate pollution
  5. nutrient reduction strategy
  6. phosphorus pollution
  7. water quality