VOLUME 2, NO. 3      SUMMER  2001


Ode to the Critters (Er, I mean, Benthic Macroinvertebrates)
 Rich Leopold – IOWATER Coordinator  

Our second full season of IOWATER trainings are under way, and again "waves of difference" are being made across this state because of dedicated volunteers and professionals willing to do what it takes. We have increased our IOWATER Level One workshops to a total of 18 trainings. The IOWATER Level Two workshops and modules have been well attended everywhere we go. People are actively monitoring hundreds of sites across Iowa with more being added all the time. The pace of this activity is exciting, although not surprising to those of us that have hope for a cleaner environment. 

One of the sacrifices I've had to make in moving to Level 2 trainings has been my use of one of my favorite words, "critters." Allow me to explain. In my previous life (e.g. my pre-IOWATER life) as a naturalist, I often used the word "critters" in interpreting our natural resources. At Level One workshops last year, I used the word in place of "benthic macroinvertebrates" often since that phrase doesn't fit well in most people's mouths – kind-of like trying to stuff a Big Mac into a baby's mouth. Besides the occasional grimace from the college professor attending these workshops, I got away with this.

 The trouble started this last winter, as I entered graduate school and took Aquatic Entomology at Iowa State University. My professor, a very knowledgeable man in the field, chuckled when I would refer to the many families of stoneflies, caddisflies, etc. as "critters". For the first time in my life, I felt uncomfortable using the word.

Then came the development of the IOWATER Level Two Benthic Macroinvertebrate module. Working closely with Iowa Department of Natural Resources and University Hygienic Laboratory professional, my occasional slip of the word "critter" in conversation brought condescending looks and threatened to push me to the brink of credibility. How could I possibly understand the breakdown of insect orders into respective families if my vocabulary included words most people may have given up in grade school?

The final blow came with professional peer review of the draft IOWATER Benthic Macroinvertebrate Module manual and key. Within it, hidden away as inconspicuously as possible, were perhaps 4-5 uses of the word "critter". Every one, EVERY ONE, was rooted out by the editors and pulled from the text like a bad tooth. Comments surrounding that word included "too informal, sounds unprofessional" and the like.

Therefore, the use of "critter" has been officially retired from IOWATER Level 2 literature. You may still hear a slip of the word in training workshops, expressed with a sly grin of a kid stealing an extra cookie from the cookie jar. 

Happy Monitoring!

Monitors in the Water

Recent events and/or press releases organized by IOWATER monitors have taken place in:

·         Marshall County – thanks to Diane Pixler of the Marshall County Conservation Board.

·         Lake Delhi Association – and congratulations on the Lake Delhi Restoration Project, a fine example of a watershed partnership project!

·         Bremer County - Thanks to Bremer County Conservation Board Naturalist Tammy Turner for a water monitoring program held at North Woods Park on the Little Wapsi near Sumner.

·         Pottawattame County – thanks to Shane Vondracek, Naturalist at the County Conservation Board.

·         Story County – Thanks to John Dunn, assistant director of water and pollution control for the City of Ames. Ames now has a number of sites being coordinated by the Water and Pollution Control Department on all surface streams in Ames!

·         Clayton and Winneshiek Counties – thanks to their County Farm Bureaus on sponsoring members to go to IOWATER Level 1 training in Waukon.

·         Des Moines County – Thanks to County Conservation Board staff and Burlington High School now in their EIGHTH year of monitoring Flint Creek in Burlington.

·         Boone County – thanks to Heather Freidhof. Naturalist of the County Conservation Board for an event held at Don Williams Lake.

·         Butler County - thanks to Shirley Van Eschewn and Bruce Burroughs for coordinating an outing with the Greene eighth grade students.

·         Winnesheik County – thanks to Ron Fairchild and the Twin Springs Watershed Project.

·         Dickinson, Emmet, and Palo Alto Counties – Thanks to their successful annual event, "Wings and Wetlands Weekend", which featured various IOWATER opportunities.


Murrey High School!

Instructor Marla Schiflett and her students over the winter prepared over 200 "soil infiltration tubes" for use in IOWATER's new Soil Monitoring module. This motivated class have successfully created their own "soil monitoring kits" and loaned their expertise to IOWATER's new Level 2 Soil module. Thank you and continued success in your program! 

If we are missing "happenings" you would like to see in this newsletter, let us know using the contact information on the return address portion of this newsletter!


 Attention Level 2 Monitors!
Bacteria and Chloride Monitoring Update

Bacteria. The question as to how many bacteria to count has been brought up by IOWATER Level 2 monitors. After discussions with several professionals and volunteers, we are making a slight change to the method for counting bacteria. For each petri dish, you only need to count up to 100 colonies of bacteria for each of the two categories of bacteria, E. coli and general coliform bacteria. The bacteria can be counted anywhere on the plate. If there are more than 100, record your result on the field form and in the database as >100. 

Chloride. For the IOWATER database, you will need to type in the actual chloride result. There will not be a dropdown box for chloride values. The reason for this is that the Quantab chloride test strips are calibrated by lot, so the chloride values on the vial will vary from one lot to another. The values don’t vary by much, but enough that it is easier to type in the result than to include all values possible in a dropdown box. If the value is less than the minimum value, enter the and the minimum value.


The IOWATER program holds first and foremost that this is a citizen driven program, with the IOWATER staff creating a framework for citizen monitors to operate within. This feature column is a new addition to this newsletter to offer feedback on issues surrounding IOWATER and water quality issues in Iowa.  

Webster's defines the word "forum" as "an opportunity for open discussion." The way this column will work is a guest "editorial" will be given and you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to reply to the given opinion. Selected replies will then be used in upcoming issues of this newsletter. Let the debate begin! 

Topic: Within submitted IOWATER data logs, rumor has it that some people are not submitting data because their name appears with the data. Some would like ways of submitting data anonymously, such as using monitoring ID numbers instead of names.


Reply From: Richard Leopold, IOWATER Coordinator, Des Moines.

My first reaction to this is negative. I believe that morally, a large part of why we do what we do is to help citizens be responsible for their own environment. Bottom line, I suppose it comes down to who is using the data and why they are using it. If I were to put myself in the position of a potential data user, I would attach much less credibility to data that the collector isn't willing to attach his/her name to. 

IOWATER isn't a covert team of undercover monitors identified only by number (or name if we choose to give it out). Rather, we are a coalition of concerned citizens who are willing to put our time, effort, and NAMES behind what we believe in, which is a baseline understanding of what is happening in Iowa's waters and what problems might exist. 

What do you think?

The First Annual Volunteers in Natural Resources Conference will take place November 16-17 at the Hotel Ft. Des Moines in Des Moines, sponsored by the DNR's Keepers of the Land Volunteer Program, IOWATER Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program, and the Iowa Academy of Science.  Contact Stefanie Forret at (515) 281-3150 or [email protected] for more information.
Net Notes

Lynette Seigley – Research Geologist

Say Cheese! Uploading Digital Images of Your Site. Thanks to Joost Korpel of the Geological Survey Bureau, you can now upload digital images of your monitoring site to the IOWATER database. Once logged in, go to “Upload Photographic Records for this Site.”  Photos need to be in a JPEG or GIF format. Uploaded photos can then be viewed in the site log. For examples of sites with photos, check out sites 914003, 948001, 948002, 952016, or 977012. 

Additional Data Logs Now Available for IOWATER Level 2 Parameters. If you’ve been in the IOWATER database recently, you may have noticed changes to the site logs. Chloride and E. coli bacteria are being monitored at IOWATER Level 2, and results for these parameters now appear in the Chemical/Physical Log of those that are trained. New logs are being created for each of the Level 2 modules. Currently available is are data logs for the IOWATER "Benthic Macroinvertebrate Indexing" module. Logs for the "Standing Waters" and "Soils" modules will be available soon. 

Avoid Internet Explorer 5.5. If you plan to upload data to the IOWATER database, we recommend that you avoid using Internet Explorer 5.5 at this time. There are some glitches with the IOWATER database when using this browser. We are working to resolve these problems. If you have Internet Explorer 5.5 installed, you can uninstall it and install Internet Explorer 5.01 from the following website:

Netscape Users.  For Netscape users, you may find that you can view data in the IOWATER database but cannot submit data. There are a couple ways around this. Download Internet Explorer 5.01 (see address for website above) or if you have Windows 98 or NT2000 on your computer, do the following: go to Open My Computer; Select View; Toolbars; Address Bar; Type into the address line.  This will get you into Internet Explorer. 

Can more than one person monitor the same location? You can now! We've made this change due to interest by monitors. You can now register a monitoring site anywhere you want, even if someone else has registered a site at the same location. The sites will be distinguished between multiple monitors by their unique site number. 

Can two people share a monitoring site and both submit data for it?  Again, due to interest by monitors in the field, you can now! If you and another IOWATER trained monitor are sharing collection of data from one site and both want to be able to enter data for that site, simply contact me. I will assign both of you a new IOWATER ID and password that you will share. With this ID and password, both of you will be able to submit data for shared sites. 

How to find UTM Coordinates for an IOWATER Site. There are two ways to determine UTM coordinates for an IOWATER site. UTM coordinates are now listed in the site log information when you view data. Another option is to go to View Map of IOWATER Sites. As you zoom in to an area (use the + tool in the toolbar), move the cursor to a site. The UTM coordinates will appear in the lower left corner of your computer screen. 

How to find Latitude and Longitude Coordinates for an IOWATER Site. To determine the latitude and longitude coordinates for an IOWATER site, in the IOWATER database, go to “View Map of IOWATER Sites.” In the toolbar on the left side, hit the Legend/Layer list button (upper left button) so that the Layers appear to the right of the map. IOWATER Site ID will appear as a layer. Use the (+) button in the toolbar. Select an area of interest and zoom in. Make IOWATER Site ID layer active, select the “I” (Identify) button in the toolbar, click on a site. Below the map a table will appear listing information about that site.  Scroll to the right in the table to see the latitude and longitude coordinates. 

Log-In Page Reappearing? Some people have had the problem of after entering your IOWATER monitor ID and password and going to Submit, the log-in page reappears. This happens in Internet Explorer if your “per session cookies” has been disabled. Here’s the fix.

      1.       Open up Internet Explorer
Click on Tools
Select “Internet Options”
4.       Click on the security Tab
5.       Change the “security level for this zone” by clicking on the “Customs Level” button
6.       Scroll down the security settings to “Allow per-session cookies (not stored)”
7.       Change from Disable to Enable

 Dangerous Cookies? The use of "Cookies" has been in the news again and some of you may be hesitant to enable them. Doing this in IOWATER isn’t a concern since these cookies will not be stored on your PC. They temporarily hold information while on the IOWATER site and automatically delete after 15 minutes of inactivity or if you exit IOWATER. They are not accessible to any other web site and cannot be used to track your activity on the Internet. 

 By the Numbers - Update on IOWATER Sites Registered and Data Submitted.

      ·         453 sites in 65 counties
·         402 biological logs submitted
·         1,000 chemical/physical logs submitted
·         317 habitat logs submitted

Stream Designated Uses. What are the "Designated Uses" of the water body you are monitoring? To determine these State of Iowa designated use(s) in the IOWATER database,

Go to “View Map of IOWATER Sites.”

In the toolbar on the left side, toggle the Legend/Layer list button (upper left button) so that the Layers appear to the right of the map.

Use the (+) button in the toolbar.  Select an area of interest.  Designated Stream Uses will appear as a layer on the right side.  The Designated Rivers layer will only appear once you’ve zoomed in to a county or smaller scale.

To make the Designated Streams Uses visible, click refresh map.  Streams with designated uses will appear as a thick purple line.

To determine a stream’s designated use, make the Designated Stream Uses layer active, select the “I” (Identify) button in the toolbar, and click on a stream segment. Below the map a table will appear listing designated stream uses.  A “Y” means yes, the stream is designated for that particular use.  A “blank” means no, the stream is not designated for that particular use.


This map shows IOWATER sites around the city of Des Moines.  The Raccoon River located along the southern edge of West Des Moines and west of site 977014 is designated for Class A (primary body contact) and Class BW  (aquatic life, warm water).

If you have questions or need help using the IOWATER database, contact Lynette Seigley at (319)335-1598 or .  We welcome any suggestions or comments you have for improving the database.


Iowa State Fair Booth We Need Your Help!


The Iowa Sate Fair is fast approaching and IOWATER again needs your help! IOWATER last year had a booth inside of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources building, attended by trained IOWATER Citizen Monitors, who answered questions as needed. This was a great success and brought exposure to many Iowans. We again need your help in staffing this worthwhile cause. You will receive an IOWATER shirt, free parking and admittance to the State Fair, and the wonderful feeling of knowing YOU helped spread the word.  

The dates run from August 9 through August 18. We will have two shifts per day, the early shift being from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm and the late shift being from 2:30 – 8:00 pm. Please contact Rich Leopold as soon as possible if interested at (515)281-3252 or e-mail at [email protected].  Leave name, number (or e-mail address), date and shift interested in. 

There are many ways to help our environment, and this opportunity has proven to be one of the most effective.


Attention Watershed Groups!

If you haven't already done so, IOWATER is interested in adding your monitoring group to our IOWATER Statewide Volunteer Monitoring Directory.  The directory will enable groups and individuals to reach out to others in their areas and throughout the state. To add your group to the directory, visit the IOWATER website ( and fill out the online form. It is as easy as that! An electronic version of the directory will be available on the IOWATER website by fall and printed copies will be available sometime this winter.


WATER Level 2 Workshops
Commitment and caring for our natural resource...taken to the next level

*You must have attended a Level 1 workshop to participate in Level 2 workshops or modules.

  Level 2 Workshops. This 8-hour training session will include monitoring design, intro to Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPP), and data interpretation.  Additional parameters include chloride and bacteria monitoring. 

Level 2 Modules. There are three advanced 4-hour training modules; Benthic Macroinvertebrate Indexing, Standing Waters Monitoring (Lakes, Ponds, and Wetlands), and Soil Monitoring. 

Level 2 Certification.  An IOWATER Citizen Monitor will be certified as Level 2 trained upon completion of Level 2 workshop training and at least one Level 2 module. 

Workshop registration fee is $25 for Level 2 workshops and $10. for each of the modules. This covers all program fees, meals, and testing equipment. To register, please fill out and send in registration form below. You will be sent confirmation, maps, and more info when paid registrations are received.




IOWATER Level 2 Workshops and Modules Registration Form


Level II Workshops (place check by workshop)

     Date                        Time                             Location                                                         

_____August 11            8 am – 4:30 pm            University Hygienic Laboratory, Coralville

_____September 29       8 am – 4:30 pm            Iowa State University, Ames *NEW*


Benthic Macroinvertebrate Module (place check by workshop)

     Date                        Time                 Location                                                                     

_____August 2            8 am – 12 pm   Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville


Soil Module (place check by workshop)

     Date                        Time                 Location                                                                     

_____August 2            1 pm – 5 pm     Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville


Standing Waters Module (place check by workshop)

     Date                        Time                 Location                                                                     

_____August 3            10 am – 3 pm     Lost Island Prairie Wetland Nature Center, Ruthven


Name: ____________________________ Organization: ________________________


Address: ______________________________________________________________

                        Street or PO Box                                City                  State            Zip Code

Phone: (day) _______________________ (evening) ___________________________


E-Mail: ________________________________________________________________


Make check out to Iowa DNR ($25. for Level 2 workshop and $10. for each Level 2 module)


Send To:            Rich Leopold – IOWATER

                        Iowa DNR – Wallace Office Bldg.

                        502 East 9th Street

                        Des Moines, IA 50319

IOWATER Level 1 Workshops- 2001 Schedule 

The following Level 1 Workshops still have room for participants. IOWATER workshops are open to any individual or group interested. Upon completion of the workshop, you will be a certified Level One IOWATER Citizen Monitor. The workshop includes ten hours of training over two days, times varying on the location. Workshop registration fee is $25, which includes all program fees, meals, and monitoring equipment. To register, please contact the individual listed for the workshop that you are interested in. 


Date                 City                  Contact             Phone,             E-mail                                      

July 20- 21            Storm Lake    Julie Sievers  (712) 262-4177            [email protected]       

July 25- 26            Waukon          Lynn Ellefson (319) 568-2246            [email protected] 

August 7- 8            Mason City Todd Von Ehwegen (515) 423-5309,  

August 22-23            Webster City Marvin Hoffman (515) 832-2916,  

August 17-18            DeWitt              Angie Kudelka            (319) 659- 3456,  

September 7- 8            Cedar Rapids Kevin Woods  (319) 455- 2185,  

September 21-22 Cedar Falls            Vern Fish (319) 277 2187,


IOWATER – making Waves of Difference!



IOWATERS by Max Exner

With my little red canoe it's time I got away  

            Up the Nishnabotna and the Nodaway,

Up the Silver, the Soldier and the big Little Sioux,  

            I will ride the rolling rivers in my little red canoe

Between the broad Mississippi and the long "Big Mo,"

            Oh, the Father of Waters has sons and daughters meandering to and fro,

And up in the sticks there are rivers and creeks

            Where a clever canoe can go.

Up the Maple, the Willow, the Boyer or the Boone,

            There's a flood on the Floyd, and there are rocks in the Raccoon;

From the Wapsipinicon any old ninny can

            Go to the Volga or turn to the Turkey or follow the Yellow

Like any good fellow, And then

            I'll take the Chariton, Maquoketa, the North, Middle, South,

Find the Skunk River's tail, look in Buffalo Creek's mouth.

            There's a feeder of the Cedar, the head of red,

There's a trip I'll take to Bingham Lake, where the big Des Moines is fed.

            Like a Sauk, like a Sioux, like a Kiowa,

I want to fight the frisky falls of the Iowa;

            I'd like a like of Honey Creek, I wanna dance the Shell Rock,

Just show me a river, I shake and shiver,

            And jump up and down like a jock.

So I'm off on a trip, somewhere west of the Mississip',

            And eastward of the bed of the big Mizzou.

And I don't care whether it's rainy weather or as bright as an eagle's feather,

            I'll be splittin' in my little red canoe. Toodle-oo!


FOOTNOTE. This was written by Max Exner as a cantic for speech choir in 1978 from Lorraine Young's speech class at Clarion High School. It was submitted by Kari Schang, once a student who used this in high school, and is now a 4th grade teacher at West Elementary School in Emmetsburg.