CLINTON — The Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussed two requests for legal funding at the Board of Supervisors meeting last week.
The Board of Supervisors received requests from the Iowa Drainage District Association and from Buena Vista and Sac counties for legal funding for a lawsuit from Des Moines Waterworks against three counties in Iowa. The three counties named in the lawsuit are Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac. According to County Auditor Eric Van Lancker, the county was asked for additional funds in a separate lawsuit a while back and this is a similar issue.
"Other counties with drainage districts sent money towards the defense of that lawsuit," Van Lancker said. "And this is the same deal. It's not unprecedented."
According to the IDDA, the lawsuit was filed against the supervisors in the three counties in their capacity as drainage district trustees. The main purpose of the lawsuit is to require drainage districts to obtain National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits to comply with the Clean Water Act. This would require county supervisors to regulate landowners and their drainage discharges to stay in compliance with the terms of the permit. In the request, the IDDA is requesting $5,000 per year from Clinton County for the lawsuit.
In the beginning of April, Rick Hecht, chairman of the Sac County Board of Supervisors, and Dale Arends, chairman of the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors, sent a request to the Clinton County Board of Supervisors requesting financial assistance in the lawsuit. In the request, they state that the final ruling could impact every district and farmer in Iowa. They suggested that instead of receiving help from other groups, including the IDDA, they should help the counties fund the effort.
"They're (the Des Moines Water Works) trying to make a point," Van Lancker said. "We've known about it for years that we were going to do this. Well, to make their point, they have to sue the counties and the drainage districts. I think their point isn't so much against the counties and the drainage districts but that's who they had to sue to make a point to the DNR."
Van Lancker told the Supervisors he is not sure why the counties are asking Clinton County for the funds directly rather than through the IDDA. Supervisor Shawn Hamerlinck agreed, saying he is against sending the money directly to the three counties facing the lawsuit.
"Just to reiterate, giving the money to individual counties, I'm not a fan of," Hamerlinck said.
The Supervisors agreed that they did not have enough information to hold a vote on whether to provide legal funding for the lawsuit. They agreed they would come up with questions they had about the lawsuit and give them to Hamerlinck, who would ask a representative from the IDDA to answer any questions the Supervisors had.
The item is set for further discussion.
Herald Staff Writer John Rohlf can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.