"Drought, heavy rain increase amount of chemical in rivers."
"The record surge in nitrates in Des Moines’ water supply is a surprisingly long-lasting health threat that already has cost $500,000 in higher treatment costs and likely will lead to increased rates next year, according to Des Moines Water Works."
"The spike comes as a study by scientists at the University of Iowa and elsewhere, published last week in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that babies born to Iowa and Texas mothers who drank even small amounts of nitrate in the first trimester faced a larger risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate.
Nitrate occurs naturally and comes from decaying plants and animal manure, but the primary sources in the Midwest are crop fertilizers. The new study is sure to fuel a testy debate among environmentalists, water plant operators and farm interests about how to cut nitrate pollution. The state’s recently completed Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which calls for continued voluntary work by farmers and no regulations, has drawn fire from many, including Bill Stowe, general manager of Des Moines Water Works."