May 25, 2016

Ratepayers will bear the expense of focus on divisive tactics over infrastructure improvements.

DES MOINES, Iowa, May 25, 2016 – Iowa Partnership for Clean Water (IPCW) is disappointed by Des Moines Water Works’ decision to direct additional funds toward its ongoing crusade against Iowa farmers. The utility has once again chosen to prioritize its own political agenda – through a divisive lawsuit – over improvements to its aging infrastructure, and ratepayers are stuck with the bill.

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) could spend money on renewing its outdated infrastructure – an issue it admits needs addressing. Instead, however, the utility’s leadership is pouring dollars into a lawsuit that is now delayed until June 2017, further creating division where there should be collaboration. The supplementary $650,000 (nearly $1.4 million total) will certainly place additional financial burden on ratepayers who just faced a 10 percent rate hike in April.

Though DMWW sells water to more than 20 communities and water districts, none of those customers are given a say in rate or expenditure decisions. The choice to spend additional funds on a legal battle may affect all customers, but was made to further an agenda not supported by all. It is past time for a regional approach to governing the water utility – one that will represent all voices served by DMWW.

The City of Des Moines makes up about 40 percent of all water usage from DMWW. The other 60 percent comes from areas outside the city limits; these businesses and homeowners have no voice in the discussion. This means suburban and rural communities, in addition to Des Moines residents, will continue to pay for this divisive lawsuit without a say.

In April, IPCW hosted a discussion regarding the feasibility of a regional utility and the decisions needed to adequately serve Central Iowa communities. This conversation made clear that residents of the Des Moines metro area and surrounding rural and suburban communities have not been afforded significant input into governance or decision-making at DMWW, despite the increasingly regional nature of the utility’s service. There is a clear eagerness in the community to move toward a collaborative and representative utility model – Iowa Partnership for Clean Water looks forward to further discussion.

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