Sac City, IA (ABC9 News)- The Des Moines Water Works Board issued a letter of intent to sue 3 counties over nitrate levels in the Raccoon River, the capital’s water source. The board cites farming and runoff as the cause for the nitrate levels.

Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties were upset.

Colin McCullough, Sac County’s drainage attorney says, “I was shocked and dismayed that we have 3,000 drainage districts in the state of Iowa and only 17 have been accused of doing what we all know is state wide.”

On Tuesday, Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey spent time talking to community leaders and farmers in the three counties providing more information.

“I think it was important for them to know that we care about this. There’s a lot of people that care about this. They’re not on their own in this. This impacts everybody,” says Northey.

State leaders believe the real goal of the litigation is for there to be more regulations for farmers and counties. But Northey is promoting a different approach.

“I think they’d be much better spent by working with farmers, coming up with new technologies, looking at ways to be able to do a better job in the field and us each trying different things that’ll work on our own farm,” Northey tells ABC9.

“We need to talk. We want to talk. But merely getting a 7 page letter saying ‘we’re going to sue you for money, common law, and statuatory, and we want better,’ that isn’t the way to go about it,” adds McCullough.

Community officials and local farmers are relieved to hear they aren’t alone, and were grateful Northey took the time to speak with them.

David Irwin, a Sac county farmer says, “It shows me that he’s actually caring and doing his job and not trying to just be in Des Moines and be a public figure. He’s trying to inform the public.”

Northey will speak again Wednesday Morning at 8 am at King’s Pointe in Storm Lake to more famers and leaders from Buena Vista County.