Threats, vindication for drainage districts topped the news in 2017

Law enforcement vehicles are seen in Rockwell City in February, when a man refused to respond to police requests to leave his home for 16 hours. The man was taken into custody without incident. GRAPHIC-ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO

The biggest story of 2017 marked the end of two years of litigation against a handful of northwestern Iowa drainage districts.

A federal judge in March ruled the Des Moines Water Works could not seek the financial compensation it wanted, nor could it ask the federal government to impose Clean Water Act rules on drainage districts in Calhoun, Buena Vista and Sac counties.

“The drainage districts are creations of Iowa law,” U.S. District Court Justice Leonard T. Strand wrote in his March 17 ruling, as he dismissed the first two counts in the lawsuit, which were brought under federal law. “Through those counts, DMWW seeks injunctive relief and the assessment of civil penalties against the drainage districts arising from alleged duties and powers that the districts simply do not possess under Iowa law. DMWW may well have suffered an injury, but the drainage districts lack the ability to redress that injury.”

Read more in the Dec. 27 edition.