Environmental organization opposes Clayton County company’s request to ship water

CLAYTON, Iowa — The Iowa chapter of an environmental advocacy organization is voicing its opposition to a Clayton County company’s plan to pump millions of gallons of Iowa water to drought-affected western states.

Pattison Sand Co., which produces limestone and silica sand, has appealed the decision made thrice by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to deny the company a permit to pump and ship water from the Jordan Aquifer. An appeal hearing is set for Nov. 9 and 10.

Officials from the Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club announced Tuesday that they had filed an intervention with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals to express their disapproval for Pattison Sand’s plan.

“We filed an intervention just to add support to the DNR’s position,” Sierra Club Legal Chair Wally Taylor said. “We want to make sure all issues are presented.”

Officials from Pattison Sand and the DNR did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

DNR officials have denied Pattison Sand’s requests, saying the company did not provide enough information about how and where the water would be used.

Earlier this year, Des Monies lawyer James Pray told the Iowa Capital Dispatch on behalf of Pattison Sand that the company wanted to hire a transportation firm to ship the water to customers via railway to rehire workers in limbo from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jess Mazour, Sierra Club conservation coordinator, said officials from the group believe Pattison Sand’s plans threaten the Jordan Aquifer by pumping out water faster than it can be replenished.

“The threat on the Jordan Aquifer is so massive, because so many rely on it,” she said. “We can’t deplete. It will not recharge in our lifetime.”

Mazour said taking a public resource such as water for private company use sets a dangerous precedent.

“That opens the door for other companies to make a profit,” she said. “We don’t want to open that door. Water is a shared resource for all of us.”

Taylor said Pattison Sand has sent letters to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ office and the DNR asking for a different outcome for their request. Officials from the governor’s office did not respond to calls for comment Tuesday.

“One of our concerns is that Pattison tried to make this a political battle,” Taylor said. “They’re trying to draw the governor’s office into it.”