The debate over legislation that would dismantle Des Moines Water Works has moved from the Statehouse to the airwaves, where two competing groups have launched radio ad campaigns.

A Des Moines Water Works ad titled “Drip” began airing March 17 on Des Moines radio stations. It knocks Des Moines for supporting the controversial legislation and encourages residents to contact legislators to tell them to oppose the bill.

“For nearly 100 years, the Des Moines Water Works has delivered safe and affordable drinking water,” a woman’s voice says. “It was set up independent from the Des Moines City Council for one reason: to protect our drinking water from politics.”

“Don’t let the management of delivering us safe and affordable drinking water be put in the hands of politicians,” the ad says.

The Iowa Partnership for Clean Water, a group backed by the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, has its own radio ad that strikes back at Des Moines Water Works for its federal lawsuit against three northern Iowa counties.

That lawsuit, which a federal judge dismissed on March 17, claimed drainage districts in the counties funnel high levels of nitrates into the Raccoon River, a source of drinking water for 500,000 central Iowa residents, that the utility later must pay to remove.

Des Moines Water Works agreed to spend up to $1.35 million to pursue the lawsuit. By the end of January it had spent about $821,000.


Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe responds to an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that the utility cannot win damage payments from drainage districts accused of sending fertilizers and other pollution unchecked into the Raccoon River.

The Partnership for Clean Water’s ad calls that “frivolous” spending on a “misguided” lawsuit.

“Think you can get your money back? Not…