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Board of Water Works Trustees v. Sac County Board of Supervisors

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20042
Nos. C15-4020-LTS, (N.D. Iowa, 03/17/2017) (Strand, J.)

A district court granted defendant's motion for summary judgment in a case involving a city utility's suit against an upstream drainage district over excess nitrate pollution in the utility's water source. In a prior decision involving these two entities, the Iowa Supreme court held that drainage districts are immune from lawsuit by a state utility because the state legislature enacted a law prohibiting litigation between state departments, boards, and commissions. Further, the court's prior precedent that public entities cannot challenge the constitutionality of statutes enacted by legislatures that created them precluded the utility from proceeding without the court's permission, which the court was not inclined to provide. The utility then brought the claim to federal court, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause, Due Process Clause, and Takings Clause of the Constitution with regard to the drainage district's immunization, as well as challenging the Iowa Supreme Court's interpretation of federal law as it pertains to the drainage district's violations of the CWA. The district court held that the utility lacked standing to bring suit for violations under the CWA as the court did not have the power to redress the issue. Further, the court rejected all of the constitutional claims.