IPCW HOSTED PANEL DISCUSSION OF POTENTIAL CENTRAL IOWA REGIONAL WATER FACILITY
DES MOINES, Iowa, April 7, 2016 – Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (IPCW), an organization dedicated to broadening the understanding of agriculture as it pertains to clean water and conservation initiatives within Iowa, hosted a panel discussion of a potential Central Iowa regional water facility with stakeholders from across the Des Moines area yesterday. The event, “A Conversation on a Prospective Central Iowa Regional Water Facility,” was focused on the feasibility of a regional utility and the decisions needed to adequately serve Central Iowa communities.
Panelists included Tom Cope, Johnston city councilman; E.J. Giovannetti, former Polk County supervisor and member of Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission (CIRDWC); Graham Gillette, president of Gillette Strategic Resources and Des Moines Water Works board chairman; and Jeff May, Clive public works director. Des Moines City Councilwoman and IPCW board member, Christine Hensley, moderated the panel.
“With over 20 communities currently purchasing water from the Des Moines Water Works, continued dialogue of a potential regional water facility is imperative,” said IPCW board member and Des Moines City Councilwoman, Christine Hensley. “While much has been said about the impact nitrate removal has on costs, very little has been openly discussed about the remaining 75 percent of the recently announced Capital Improvement Plan by Des Moines Water Works and its potential impact on the communities served by our utility.”
The issues of cost, governance, process for decision making and timelines, and community involvement in a regional water facility are critical and will require significant discussion. A point of concern for IPCW has been the inconsistent rhetoric from Des Moines Water Works regarding strategy and infrastructure costs. IPCW is pleased with the turnout at yesterday’s panel discussion as a step forward in the collaborative effort to address these issues.
A major theme discussed throughout the panel was the conception of a new governance model under a regional water facility. An inclusive governance structure would allow communities in the metro area to have a voice in how their water utility is operated on a day-to-day basis.
Panelist and CIRDWC board member, E.J. Giovannetti, emphasized the need for communities to have an increased voice regarding governance and policy decisions. “At this point, Des Moines Water Works is a regional facility; it should have regional governance. [The communities] should have an option of ownership moving forward,” he said.
“This discussion served a valuable role in bringing together key Central Iowa stakeholders to discuss decisions that need to be made about a water system that can best serve Des Moines and the surrounding communities well into the future,” said Hensley.