Northeast Iowa sand mine renews once-rejected bid to export water

Parched land. (Photo by Getty Images)

Pattison Sand Co. of Clayton has renewed its bid to export water from Iowa’s Jordan Aquifer to drought-stricken, western states after state officials turned the request down the first time.

In a new application, company founder Kyle Pattison wrote that he had been in discussions with DNR staffers about the possibility of exporting 2.8 million gallons a month for starters. He said the rail company that would ship the water would decide where it would go. Early talk centered around New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California.

It appears the new proposal would involve far less water, 34 million gallons a year, than the 6 billion gallons a year originally envisioned, at least in the beginning.

The company wants a 10-year contract starting May 1.

Alex Murphy, spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said DNR staff will need time to review the latest proposal. He had no further comment.

The initial application brought questions from the state geologist and from Sen. Liz Mathis, D-Hiawatha, and others who questioned whether Iowa’s water should be exported, setting a precedent that might eventually affect other users of the Jordan. Currently, only water from small border rural water systems leaves the state. Mathis on Friday said she had not seen the application and couldn’t comment.

Iowa Capital Dispatch broke the news on the original plan to export 2 billion gallons a year from wells installed at the sand mining operation for other purposes approved by the state. State officials rejected that proposal.