March 8, 2017

Why You Should Stand Against HF 484

House File 484
is a bill that would disband the governing boards of the Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines water works. If signed into law, these three independent utilities would be forced to turn over management and their assets to the city councils in each city.

This is a diversion

  • There is no drinking water quality crisis in the Des Moines metro area that would necessitate the state legislature stepping in.
  • The real problem is source water quality in the state. The Legislature should be focused on water quality – not local water production.
  • Metro utilities have done an outstanding job for decades of planning and implementing the supply, treatment, and transmissions projects necessary to ensure everyone in the metro has access to quality water in adequate quantities at reasonable rates.

Legislative overreach

  • This legislation stands in stark contrast to Home Rule (the right for local self-government)
  • Iowa Code Chapter 388, states that a city may establish or dispose of a city utility, but it is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.
  • This legislation takes the right to vote out of the hands of the citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.
  • Approximately 15 years ago, West Des Moines asked the citizens of West Des Moines to vote on dissolving their water board. More than 90% of the voters said no. This legislation will allow them to take over the utility without it going to the voters.
  • This is clearly an effort to bypass existing law and the will of the people.

Current version of the bill doesn’t even address regionalization

  • The amended bill doesn’t create a regional water authority, which was ostensibly the reason for the original legislation.
  • Regionalization, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. This is why a coalition of 22 metro water utilities commissioned a study in 2014.
  • House File 484 would dismantle in an instant all of our accomplishments today. The metro water utilities will find a solution to our region’s future water needs by continuing the dialogue, not dismantling what has already been done.

Why water boards were set up independently

  • Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics. Simply stated, it is an independent local water utility owned by its customers and it works, and has worked for 100 years.
  • There is absolutely no need to dismantle the water boards in the metro area that have decades of experience of delivering safe and affordable drinking water, and have long histories of financial diligence that have resulted in healthy water systems at relatively affordable rates.
  • Currently, water rates are reinvested in the water system, funding imperative capital improvements – for example, over $3 million this year in water main replacement projects for Des Moines.
  • It is no secret the City of Des Moines needs new revenue sources. If assets, responsibilities and revenue are transferred to City of Des Moines, portions of water rates could be funneled to the general fund of City of Des Moines, circumventing needed infrastructure plans.
  • Takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.

Why you should stand against HF 484

  • This is a solution looking for a non-existent problem.
  • The legislature is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong.
  • The proposed legislation actually impedes the regions ability to create a regional water authority.
  • House File 484 sets a dangerous precedent for all of Iowa’s 500 independent utilities boards.
  • Legislation could impede economic growth as it puts a freeze planning and construction of new water treatment facilities.
  • House File 484 is an example of politics at its worst. This legislation is clearly retaliation for the Clean Water Lawsuit, and shows no regard to the 500,000 people who depend on Des Moines Water Works for clean and affordable drinking water ever day.
  • As we saw in Flint, Michigan, when financially strained cities make decisions for purely economic reasons, the results can be catastrophic.


Posted by: Laura Sarcone 8 Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customer Service, Customers, Rates

8 Responses to “Why You Should Stand Against HF 484”

  1. March 08, 2017 at 7:12 pm, Gabe said:

    Maybe this wouldn’t be an issue if the people of Des Moines had the ability to vote on the board of the Water Commission wouldn’t be an issue if the people of Des Moine had the ability to elect the decision makers of DMWW.


  2. March 08, 2017 at 11:19 pm, Cathy said:

    NO to house file 484!!


  3. March 09, 2017 at 12:30 am, Robert Gielczowski said:

    Why do I smell crooked politicians who see a way of extracting more taxes from the Citizens. Any place that there’s money, politicians think they need to control it.


  4. March 09, 2017 at 6:53 pm, Scott Polega said:

    I am not a resident of Iowa, but I am following the DMWW’s court case closely. I live in rural Michigan and it is a shame to see the same type of pollution happening here. The tiles pour nutrient rich water into our ditches, creeks, into our rivers, and then into Lake Huron. Beaches have to be closed in the summer, Really?! And still there is no problem? We have had several big fish kills, and still people forget, because not everyone sees what sportsmen or environmental people see daily. Lake Erie has annual algae blooms on its western basin, they are so big it creates a dead zone in about a 1/4 of the lake. Even if the DMWW loses, the fact they tried something is a huge step forward. Keep fighting and don’t give up, the whole country is watching!!!


  5. March 10, 2017 at 9:04 am, Morgan Mendieta said:

    Is there anything that regular citizens can do?


  6. March 18, 2017 at 11:12 pm, christopher Brown said:

    There is no larger necessity for healthy living than community populations having access to safe drinking water. Independently operated public water companies are responsible for safely delivering this vital resource. A threat to this resource is a public health issue that can increase comorbidities for various disease processes and influence high mortality rates. In example, high nitrate levels can cause birth defects, cancer, thyroid problems, baby blue syndrome, etc. The Des Moines Water Works lawsuit is essentially asking for reimbursement for the cost of filtering out all of the added chemicals. Throughout this very costly legal process, a bill to disband the governing boards of Des Moines, Urbandale, and West Des Moines called the House File 484 was developed. If this bill passes, Des Moines Water Works will lose it’s ability to operate as an independent utility and will then be controlled by city counsels in each city. This legislation will be voted on Monday, March 20, 2017. This legislation essentially bypasses the voters, and allows politics to be heavily involved in the crucial decision making process of determining what is safe water for our communities. Whether one disagrees with the Water Works lawsuit, which was just recently thrown out by a lower court, or whether one supports it, doesn’t change the fact that there is a serious pollution problem in Iowa. We either pay the company that delivers the water to our tap to filter out the pollutants, or we create resources to fix the problem at its source. Removing the party that has been successful in delivering a safe water supply to the public and replacing it with a political entity is not a safe community health decision. One needs to look no further than Flint, Michigan to see what happens when government controls the water supply.


  7. March 22, 2017 at 9:56 am, Richard Shepardson said:

    I’m 100% with the Des Moines Water Works and the existing structure. You have done an outstanding job of keeping our water safe.


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