The Iowa Supreme Court must now decide whether to weigh in on a lawsuit that pits Des Moines Water Works against upstream farmers accused of contaminating rivers with nitrates from fertilizer.
The justices heard arguments Wednesday in the case, which asks the court to decide whether agriculture drainage districts have immunity from lawsuits and whether the water utility can seek monetary damages.
Water Works officials say removing excess nitrate from water costs $1.5 million last year alone.
The agency sued three northwest Iowa counties that oversee 10 agricultural drainage districts.
The Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and corn and soybean growers associations are offering to help pay legal fees for the counties.
The lawsuit, in federal court in Des Moines, is on hold until the Iowa Supreme Court makes its ruling.