Water is a finite resource. It is a necessity for the life of all individuals and all living things. We have a responsibility to share this resource today and act as good stewards for future generations.

When water is polluted, it’s our neighbors and communities that suffer. Surface water contamination limits economic activity. Groundwater degradation requires costly treatment systems, infrastructure that is too expensive for many small and mid-sized communities.

We depend on water to sustain our way of life. Crop producers rely on irrigation to remain profitable. Energy producers require surface water to maintain generation facilities. Communities count on rivers, lakes, and streams to attract visitors and support local business.

There are important challenges ahead. Increased levels of point source and nonpoint source pollution put our waterways at risk. Changing weather patterns lead to unpredictable precipitation, forcing many of us to adapt. Hydrologic fracturing, excessive and inefficient irrigation, and increased sedimentation all must be addressed.  

Water connects us all. The hydrologic cycle ensures this. Because we all benefit, we each have a role to play in its protection. 

Water quality in Iowa

You can take a stand for Iowa's water quality future by signing this petition urging lawmakers to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

Water Notes


Next Steps for Iowa Water Quality

Iowa can chart a path forward in addressing water quality by building on its existing framework of a watershed approach with greater emphasis on watershed planning and leadership.

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Iowa’s Role in Cleaning up the Gulf

Excessive nutrient pollution in oceans and rivers can cause dense growth of plants and algae that, when decaying, deplete oxygen needed to sustain aquatic life. The technical phrase for this is eutrophication resulting in hypoxia. This condition creates the Dead Zone where the Mississippi River meets the Gulf of Mexico.

In fall 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) convened a Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force (known commonly as the Hypoxia Task Force) that included the 12 states in the Mississippi River Watershed.

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Watershed planning is key for Iowa water quality

In 2017, the Iowa Legislature passed a law that gives $282 million for water quality projects over the next 12 years. While these funds help initiate new projects and build up existing efforts, more money is not the only way to improve water quality. Instead, lawmakers should put a premium on encouraging local control.

Progress has been made, but challenges remain in Iowa’s pursuit of clean water

Since 2012, the state of Iowa has invested approximately $541 million to improve water quality, an estimated $4 to $6 billion problem in the state. Meanwhile, the federal government has paid Iowa farmers more than $2.76 billion for on-farm conservation practices over the past two decades. Even with this investment, water quality in the state has much room for improvement, according to a Center for Rural Affairs report released in March.