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VOLUME 4, NO. 1      WINTER  2003



IOWATER Data and the Meaning of Life

Brian Soenen and Mary Skopec, Iowa DNR

 Many of us have taken time out of our hectic schedules to routinely monitor our IOWATER sites. When asked the question, “Why do we monitor?” we all have our own reasons. Some of us monitor to satisfy our curiosity, others want to find out what’s in the water that our children play in, and others want to help the state of Iowa better understand our water resources. There are absolutely no wrong answers to this important question, and for all reasons we’d like to say a heartfelt, “Thank you!” and “Keep up the good work!” IOWATER is a program for all of us and we are encouraged to shape the program to suit our needs – whatever those needs may be. 

 For volunteers who want the State to use their data, there has been some confusion about how the state may or may not use volunteer data. This confusion has led some people to make the incorrect assumption that the State does not use or value this data. Let’s “clear the water,” then, and discuss how the State of Iowa uses information collected by volunteers. 

 Uses of water-quality data are best understood if we break them down into regulatory and non-regulatory uses. Data collected for regulatory purposes are used to support legal action and have a much higher “burden of proof.” In the state of Iowa, regulatory data may be collected to determine if someone is exceeding their wastewater discharge permit, dumping chemicals illegally, or violating other water-related laws. By comparison, non-regulatory data may be collected for research purposes or to understand and track the status and trends of Iowa’s water quality. Because these purposes do not have legal ramifications, the requirements of the data may be much less stringent. 

What does all of this have to do with volunteers?

The primary way that volunteer data could be used for regulatory purposes within DNR is through the development of the 305b Report and the 303d List. Section 305b of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that states assess their waters every two years and to report the status of their waters in a report commonly referred to as the “305b Report.” Waters that do not meet their “beneficial uses” are then listed according the requirements of the Clean Water Act Section 303d. Beneficial uses are made up of “general uses” and “designated uses” and refer to the intent of the Clean Water Act to maintain the integrity of our nation’s waters.  The different categories of designated uses are Class A (Primary Contact or Swimmable), Class B (Aquatic Life or Fishable), and Class C (Drinkable). Waters that have designated uses are protected to a higher degree than general use waters, which are prohibited from excessive pollution or gross negligence. The table at the end of this article shows the water quality standards for various designated uses.

 Because data used to assemble the 303d list has regulatory implications (including more stringent wastewater permits, changes in farming practices, and potential lawsuits), the DNR has developed guidelines or recommended methods of monitoring. These guidelines state that a minimum of monthly sampling (except when the water is frozen) is necessary to accurately assess whether or not a water body is impaired. The data used to make the assessment should also be collected over a designated two-year period. For the most recent assessment, this two year period ran from Oct 1, 1999 through September 30, 2001. 

 In order make sure that data collected by volunteers were strong enough for the DNR’s regulatory functions, the Iowa Legislature passed the Credible Data Law in 2000. This law sets the standard for volunteer data to be used in DNR’s regulatory programs and basically requires Quality Assurance Project Plans in order for data to be considered credible. Quality Assurance Project Plans (QAPPs) document the methods used to collect samples, the personnel who collected the sample and their level of training, and the methods used to analyze the samples. The standard applied to the volunteer data is the same standard that professional data is held to for use in regulatory programs. 

 While the Section 305b Report is mandated by the Clean Water Act, in many ways its function is non-regulatory. Its purpose is to describe the status of the State’s water quality and the extent to which state waters meet the goals of the CWA. Iowa’s credible data law does not require that volunteer data be covered by a QAPP in order to be included in the 305b Report (although it is certainly desirable). As with the 303d List, it is suggested that volunteer data be collected on a monthly basis during the two-year reporting period so as to provide an accurate assessment. 

Was volunteer data used in the current 305b Report and 303d List?

The short answer is yes and no. Most IOWATER volunteers did not become trained until well into the current reporting cycle and we did not provide guidelines to you on the desired monitoring frequency. Therefore, it was difficult to do a full assessment on volunteer data. Additionally, the rule requiring a QAPP for 303d listing was only just finalized in August of 2002. However, the State has been looking at the volunteer data.  Where the data was incomplete or inconclusive in order to make an accurate assessment, the site has been placed on a list for further investigation. As with any new program, we have learned valuable lessons in how to fit within an existing framework and will be better able to contribute to the next reporting cycle.    

Is there life beyond 305b and 303d?

Not surprisingly, the regulatory world has many hoops and hurdles. If you are feeling discouraged, read on! In many ways, the non-regulatory uses of water quality data are just as important and pertinent to improving our water quality. Much of the data collected by scientists never sees a courtroom or a regulator’s desk, but is used to guide and shape our understanding of water quality in such a way to make positive changes. For example, much of the water quality data collected historically has been on larger rivers and streams.  The information you collect on small streams helps to fill a large gap in our understanding of the role of headwater streams on the ecology, nutrient cycling, and overall health of our aquatic environments, even if it never sees the pages of a 303d list.  Volunteer data is being used to identify areas in need of more in-depth professional monitoring, direct land-use activities, and to determine where effective implementation of best management practices could improve water quality. 

So how is volunteer data being used in non-regulatory ways? 

Several examples are provided here to help you understand how the state uses the data today and what future uses may arise. 

One of the key questions about our streams today is related to the condition of stream banks and the amount of riparian vegetation in the stream corridors. Efforts to stabilize stream banks and plant buffer strips to filter nutrients will only have limited success if the small, headwater streams do not have adequate riparian corridors. By looking at the percentage of IOWATER sites with riparian corridors less than 25 meters, we can see that there is still an enormous potential for continued erosion of stream banks and movement of nutrients into the stream (Figure 1). This potential may vastly overwhelm the efforts we have made on larger streams. Furthermore, much of the ecological “energy” is produced in the small headwater tributaries. Leaf litter, macroinvertebrates, and rooted vegetation are the base of the complex food web that supports the larger streams. Your observations on the presence of these energy sources or lack thereof, help scientists understand the downstream condition of Iowa’s larger streams. For example, the graph showing the percentage of canopy cover suggests that there isn’t much vegetation shading our headwater streams (Figure 2). This indicates that ecological “energy” production from the riparian corridors could be increased if canopy cover increases.  


Figure 1.  Riparian Zone Width 5/2000 - 10/2002. Figure 2.  Canopy Cover 5/2000 - 10/2002.



Volunteer data has also been used to document instances of excessive pollution in general use streams. These volunteers have worked with local, county, and state officials to identify the sources of pollution and to begin the process of addressing these sources through a variety of state and federal programs. Because this type of gross pollution is more likely to be found in small streams where volunteers focus their monitoring (larger streams are more able to dilute and process the pollution), the role of volunteers in identifying this type of pollution and informing state officials is very important.

 One of the most expensive and difficult parts of assessing a watershed is the labor involved with collecting data at many different sites. In some cases, it is necessary to collect lots of data during a very short time period in order to see the variation in chemical or physical tests throughout the watershed. This is where monitoring partnerships between volunteers and state and local officials have been extremely helpful.  So far, “snapshot” sampling events around the state have helped to isolate “hot spots” or areas where more focused monitoring is needed. For example, IOWATER-trained volunteers participated in a snapshot sampling of the Cedar River during the summer of 2000 and again in the spring of 2001. More than 60 sites covering the area from the headwaters in Minnesota to the mouth at Conesville, Iowa were sampled within a four-hour period. This sampling event highlighted areas of higher than average bacteria counts within the urban area of Cedar Rapids and resulted in the Linn County Health Department developing a focused project to examine the causes and possible solutions to the bacteria levels. 

 A snapshot sampling in Scott County looked at the differences in water quality between the rural and urban areas and shows the impact of land-use changes along the urban fringe. A professional/volunteer partnership sampling on Whitebreast Creek in southern Iowa is being used to identify areas where best management practices could be implemented to improve the overall water quality. Without the participation of volunteers, snapshot sampling can become prohibitively expensive and therefore would limit our ability to collect this type of data. Because trained volunteers are participating in these efforts, the credibility and quality of the data collected is enhanced, while ensuring a quantity of data that assists the State in protecting our water resources.   

 How can we continue to expand the usefulness of volunteer data? 

The IOWATER team is working to develop tools to better interpret the data in the future. One of the challenges for data collected by both professionals and volunteers is determining how habitat and biological data reflect water quality. In some cases the answer is obvious (when all you find are bloodworms). But when the impacts are more subtle, it takes more sophisticated tools to understand the changing water quality. In particular, the IOWATER staff will be working with volunteer coordinators in other states to explore ways of summarizing the benthic data to provide more information than just presence/absence. 

 We are also looking at new test methods to better match the data needed by the staff writing the 305b Report and 303d List. We have been field testing a new ammonia test for the past several months and hope to be able to provide volunteers with this new test in the coming months. Keep in mind that the IOWATER program was just beginning to get its feet wet during the current 305b reporting period. As volunteers continue to collect data in the future, the data will more completely cover the reporting period and will become increasingly valuable to the State as longevity is the single most powerful element to a dataset.

 Beneficial Uses of Iowa’s Waters
Beneficial Uses can be found in Chapter 61 of Iowa’s Water Quality Standards

·        Beneficial Uses are also available on the IOWATER interactive map at

 305b Report Guidelines
Monthly sampling frequency is suggested for chemical tests (when open water is present, do not walk on thin ice or sample when water is too high to be safe).

 303d List Guidelines
State approved Quality Assurance Project Plan is required (see IOWATER staff for help writing QAPP and receiving approval).

·        Monthly sampling frequency is suggested for chemical tests (when open water is present, do not walk on thin ice or sample when water is too high to be safe).

Special thanks to John Olson with the DNR for helping us put this article together.




Here are press releases, events, or news articles involving IOWATER monitors: 

  • Black Hawk County – Thanks to Sherman Lundy for hosting an Earth Science Week Open House at Raymond Quarry which included an IOWATER informational booth.
  • Cass County – Thanks to School-To-Work Coordinator Sonya Mikkelsen and Cass County Naturalist Andria Cossolotto for including the IOWATER program in the Atlantic High School Geology class.
  • Dickinson County – Thanks to the Dickinson County Water Quality Commission for providing $9,000 to the Dickinson County Conservation Board and Friends of Lakeside Lab to hire an intern to work to promote water quality and the IOWATER program.
  • Hamilton County – Congratulations to volunteer Leah Maass for being named an Iowa Master Farm Homemaker by Wallaces Farmer magazine and that for her help with the Southfork and Briggs-Wood watershed projects.
  • Iowa County – Thanks for Naturalist Maria Koschmeder for conducting an about IOWATER program at Lake Iowa Park in August.
  • Kossuth County – Thanks to Prestage-Stoecker Farms for their donation of $500 to Algona High School towards the purchase of waders. Students at the high school use the waders to test the waters of the East Fork of the Des Moines River.
  • Kossuth County – Thanks to Stephanie Weisenbach of Clean Water Action for organizing a “Stand Up for Rural America” rally that coincided with National Monitoring Day. Also thanks to speakers Scott Moeller Kossuth County Naturalist, Algona Municipal Utilities general manager John Bilsten, Pork Producers Paul and Phyllis Willis, Iowa Framers Union vice president Chris Peterson and Laura Kerlen Kossuth County Assistant Naturalist for speaking about the IOWATER program and water quality issues.
  • Kossuth County – Thanks to Bill Funnemark and his Corwith/Wesly/LuVerne biology students, Robert Bunn and his Woden/Crystal Lake biology students, Steve Young and his Algona biology students, Tom Froehlich and his Garrigan biology students and the naturalists of Kossuth County for “grading” their local water bodies as part of a National Monitoring Day activity.
  • Linn County – Thanks to volunteers at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids and the Linn Soil and Water Conservation District for their continuing efforts with the Hoosier Creek Watershed Project.
  • Mitchell County – Thanks to Dale Adams, Rick Jacobsen and Travis Kuntz for their work on Turtle Creek and for involving St. Ansgar FFA in water quality monitoring.
  • Mitchell, Floyd and Butler Counties – Thanks to Dale Adams for his work with the Tri-County Rural Water Project and motivating schools in Mitchell and Floyd Counties.
  • Muscatine County – Thanks to Dave Bakke and Leslie Eichelberger for motivating residents to take an active role in preserving clean water and for including young children in their monitoring.
  • Muscatine and Louisa Counties – Thanks to Matt McAndrew Mud Creek Watershed Coordinator for hosting a presentation of data from a snapshot sampling event in Muscatine and Louisa Counties.
  • Sac County – Thanks to Sac County Farm Bureau Public Relations and Education Committee for sponsoring IOWATER events in the summer of 2002.
  • Scott and Muscatine Counties – Thanks to Elizabeth Horton Plasket of the Iowa Environmental Council and Jennifer Anderson a naturalist at Nahant Marsh for participating in an event to celebrate National Monitoring Day with students from Truman Elementary School.
  • Statewide – Thanks to the RABGRAI team for spreading the word about IOWATER.
  • Story County – Thanks to Jim Colbert and the Skunk River Navy for organizing a river clean-up of the Skunk River and for increasing the awareness in local collage students.
  • Story County – Thanks to Steve Lekwa and the Squaw Creek Watershed Council for spreading the word about National Monitoring Day.
  • Wright County – Thanks to Clarion-Goldfield Middle School, Steve Haberman, Bruce Voigts and Monsanto Field Manager Denny Murphy for the use of the IOWATER program in the classroom and for the grant from Monsanto.

Compiled by Jacklyn Neely.


Did I Miss It? (No, You Didn't!)

If you think it's been ahwile since you've seen an IOWATER Citizen Monitor, you're right.  We didn't send you a Fall issue in 2002.  However, the Winter 2003 issue is jam-packed with some very important stuff.  Be sure to check out this issue's feature article, "IOWATER Data and the Meaning of Life," which sheds some light on the many ways the state uses volunteer data.  Also, don't miss reading about the results from Iowa's first ever statewide snapshot sampling - and how you can be a part of the next one.  Happy Reading!



     IOWATER 2003 Level 1 Workshop Schedule

    Date                                           City/Town       Contact   Phone                              E-mail       
    April 4; 5-9pm
    April 5; 8am -2pm
    Cedar Rapids (Prairie High School) Jennifer Koopmann (319)377-5960
    April 11; 5-9pm
    April 12; 9am -3pm
    Nishna Bend Recreation Area, Harlan Christina Groen (712)744-3403
    April 25; 5-9pm
    April 26; 8am -2pm
    Muscatine Community College, Muscatine Dave Bakke (563)264-5922
    May 9; 5-9pm
    May 10; 9am-3pm
    Warren County (Annett Nature Center) Angela Biggs (515)961-5264
    May 16; 6-9pm
    May 17; 9am - 4pm
    Milford (Horseshoe Bend) Barbara Tagami (712)338-4238
    May 28; 5-10pm
    May 29; 5-10pm
    North Tama Activity Center, Traer Mark Manson (319)478-8917
    June 25; 8am-5pm;  NOTE:  this workshop is for teachers only who are participating in UNI's Iowa Geology Class University of Northern Iowa Sherman Lundy (319)235-6583
    June 27; 5-9 pm
    June 28; 8am-3pm
    Chickasaw County (Ionia, Twin Ponds Nature Center) Dana Dettmer (641)394-4714
    August 1; 5-9pm
    August 2; 9am-3pm
    Bettendorf (Surrey Heights Fire Station) Jeff West (563)332-3113
    August 11; 5-10pm
    August 12; 5-10 pm
    Fort Dodge (Bob Heun shelter at John F. Kennedy Park) Karen Hansen (515)576-4258
    August 15; 5-9pm
    August 16; 9am-3 pm
     Williamsburg (Kirkwood College Center) Maria Koschmeder (319)655-8466



    Congratulations 2002 IOWATER Award Winners!

    IOWATER Volunteer of the Year – Dale Adams

    Professionally, Dale has been involved in water-quality issues since 1989 and recognizes the importance of monitoring. He is currently an environmental specialist with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. Dale’s passion for water quality doesn’t end when he leaves the office, however – he monitors several streams in Mitchell County, and actively recruits others to “get wet” through monitoring. Dale hopes to someday pass on his sites to other individuals or organizations that he recruits. He credits Don Lund, another IOWATER monitor, with getting him started on monitoring in Mitchell County, as Dale took over several sites that Don previously monitored. Dale saw it as an opportunity to put into practice what he learned in IOWATER. To date, he has successfully involved students and teachers from the St. Ansgar FFA and biology class, Osage High School, Riceville schools, and Marble Rock schools, as well as the Mitchell County Conservation Board.



    IOWATER Professional of the Year - Ellen Hartz

    Ellen is a science teacher with ECHO Alternative High School in Tiffin. She began water-quality monitoring and education efforts on her own for ECHO students in 1998, then connected these to IOWATER when the program began in 2000. Ellen teaches a 32-week course that meets four hours weekly and is devoted to water quality. She leads her students in monitoring sites in Iowa County. Ellen’s students are literally “in the water” two to three hours each week. The students also learn how to be stewards of their environment and are involved with other natural resource activities such as attending Groundwater Association meetings, visiting the U.S. Geological Survey, independent studies, and presenting at the Ankeny Children’s Water Festival. 



    IOWATER Educator of the Year - Ron Wilmot

    Ron has involved his students with water monitoring since 2000, when they sampled the Big Sioux River. He has also taken his class to Iowa Lakeside Lab for a field and research project, consisting of three days in the fall and three days in the spring, using high-tech equipment to conduct water monitoring. Under his direction, Ron’s students have performed a water runoff study of the LeMars NRCS office property, which covers 38 square miles. Some other natural resource activities the students are involved with include a feasibility study for a wind turbine, a cricket frog study in Union County, South Dakota, a small mammal survey of Mt. Talbot in Stone State Park, elevation markers for Milford Site, and NatureMapping. Through Ron’s leadership, his students have also prepared presentations for city councils, service groups, the local school board, state school board conventions, state and national teacher workshops and conferences, and four presentations at the school per year.



    IOWATER Watershed Group/Organization of the Year – Squaw Creek Watershed Council

    The Squaw Creek Watershed Council came into being in March 2001. Its mission is “to provide leadership in protecting and improving the environmental health of Squaw Creek Watershed by facilitating cooperative involvement of urban and rural residents in raising public awareness and promoting educational programs and targeted actions.” The council has accomplished this through their monitoring of Squaw Creek and its tributaries, and they have increased public awareness of watershed issues through town meetings and watershed boundary signs. In addition, the council has sponsored local presentations on the CREP Program, septic systems, and flood plain management and coordinated field trips to a remnant marsh in the watershed and the Bear Creek riparian buffer project. The group has actively promoted IOWATER monitoring by its members and throughout the watershed. More than 170 sets of IOWATER volunteer data from 49 sites in the watershed have been recorded. The council has also participated in work days at a prairie restoration site along Squaw Creek and in removing trash from Squaw Creek and its tributaries.





    IOWATER Monitors Participate in National Water Monitoring Day
    Lynette Seigley, Research Geologist

    October 18, 2002, marked the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act. To celebrate the event, volunteer monitors from across the U.S. were encouraged to test their waters as part of National Water Monitoring Day. The monitoring event was to provide a snapshot in time of water resources in the U.S. The event, the first of what is intended to be an annual event, was coordinated by America's Clean Water Foundation. Nationally, monitors were encouraged to measure water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and water clarity/turbidity. 

    In Iowa, IOWATER monitors were encouraged to participate in National Water Monitoring Day by monitoring their regular sites between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on October 18 and to complete any or all of the IOWATER field assessments. Data collected were then submitted to the IOWATER database. Results from the sampling were intended to provide a picture in time of water quality in Iowa. (Note: The results below include only data submitted to the IOWATER database and none of the data submitted to the National Water Monitoring Day Web site. Since not all IOWATER monitors were able to sample on Friday October 18, this summary includes data submitted to the IOWATER database for sites monitored from October 16 through October 20.)  

    A total of 68 sites were monitored in 24 Iowa counties (see attached figure); three of the 68 stream sites monitored were dry. Two of the dry sites were in Lucas County in southern Iowa and have been dry since July 31, 2002; the other dry site was in Black Hawk County. Table 1 summarizes the results from the sampling. All samples were collected using standard IOWATER methods. For 10 sites, the October 18 sampling represented the first time these stream sites were sampled. All other sites have been monitored before, and some have been monitored 25 times or more.


    The pH levels from IOWATER sites varied from 7 to 9, with an average of 8. Of the 64 streams sampled as part of the snapshot sampling, 78% had a pH of 8 or 9. (A pH of 7 is neutral; pH values greater than 7 are alkaline or “basic,” while a pH less than 7 is acidic.)


    Only 30 IOWATER sites were sampled for chloride. (As chloride is a Level 2 parameter, only half of those who participated in the snapshot have completed Level 2 training.) Chloride concentrations ranged from below detection (.

    Three sites that were sampled – a site in Black Hawk County, another in Dubuque County, and a third site in Johnson County – reported elevated chloride concentrations of 92, 150 and 191 mg/L, respectively. The Black Hawk County site has been sampled monthly for the past year, and the 92 mg/L is the highest chloride level reported for this site to date. The Dubuque County site has reported chloride concentrations above 100 mg/L for the past year. The monitor for this site has noted livestock adjacent to this stream site. The Johnson County site is downstream of a municipal wastewater facility. This is the first time this site has been sampled, although it has been used for Level 2 workshops, and elevated chloride has been noted during those workshops.


    Orthophosphorus concentrations ranged from 0 to 5.0 mg/L. The average concentration was 0.2 mg/L. Six sites reported orthophosphorus concentrations of 1.0 mg/L or higher. These sites were located in Black Hawk, Johnson, Linn, Polk and Sioux counties. The site in Black Hawk County had an orthophosphorus value of 1.0 mg/L, a concentration that has been recorded at this site previously. The orthophosphorus level in the Johnson County stream was 3.0 mg/L. This was the first time this site has been monitored. The site is located downstream of a municipal wastewater outfall, and also reported elevated chloride levels (191 mg/L). The Linn County site had a value of 5.0 mg/L, a level that has also been measured at this site before. Two sites in Polk County had an orthophosphorus concentration of 1.0 mg/L. Both sites also had a nitrate-N value of 5 mg/L.  The site in Sioux County has been monitored seven times since August 2000. Each time the site was sampled, orthophosphorus values have been greater than 1 mg/L. Nitrate-N concentrations tend to be elevated at this site also, ranging from 2-10 mg/L. This site receives runoff or discharge from a golf course, a municipal wastewater facility, and a meat packing plant facility.  All of these facilities are located in the watershed above the site, and all are within four miles of the monitoring site.

     Dissolved Oxygen

     The average dissolved oxygen for the sites sampled was 8 mg/L; the lowest dissolved oxygen value was 4 mg/L, recorded at a site in Mitchell County – the first time dissolved oxygen had been measured at this site. Another site in Johnson County had a reading of 5 mg/L. The Johnson County site has been monitored for dissolved oxygen on 14 different occasions, and low dissolved oxygen concentrations have been recorded previously at this site. Eight sites reported a dissolved oxygen concentration of 6 mg/L. These sites were scattered throughout the northeast quarter of Iowa and included one site in Polk County. For most of these sites, previous monitoring has reported similarly low dissolved oxygen levels. 

     Water Temperature

     Water temperatures from the snapshot ranged from 29 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit and the average was 48. Most of the sites that had lower water temperatures were located in the Squaw Creek Watershed near Ames in Story County.  

     Nitrite-N and Nitrate-N

    For the snapshot sampling, nitrite-N concentrations ranged from 0 to 1 mg/L. The majority of sites had 0 mg/L or a very low concentration. More than 65% of the sites had 0 mg/L; only 5% of the sites had nitrite-N greater than 0.15 mg/L. Of the sites with elevated nitrite-N concentrations, the site in Johnson County usually has low (0.15 to 0.30 mg/L), but detectable levels of nitrite-N.  A site in Sac County had a nitrite-N concentration of 1 mg/L; very few samples have been collected at this site, and the 1 mg/L is the highest concentration to date.

     Nitrate-N concentrations ranged from 0 to 20 mg/L, with an average of 2 mg/L. The highest reported nitrate-N concentration was 20 mg/L at a site in Cerro Gordo County near Mason City.  This concentration was the highest nitrate-N value ever measured for this site. Three sites had nitrate-N concentrations of 10 mg/L:  one in Sioux County in northwest Iowa; a site in Story County in central Iowa; and a site in Fayette County in northeast Iowa. Elevated nitrate-N has been reported previously for the site in Sioux County, whereas the nitrate-N result from the Fayette County site was the highest recorded to date for that site. The site in Story County has had elevated nitrate most of this year, with a high of 20 mg/L recorded in July 2002.


     A cluster of sites monitored in the Squaw Creek Watershed near Ames in Story County and another group of sites in and around the Shell Rock River area of Butler and Floyd counties all reported transparency values greater than 40 centimeters. Water transparency was high for the majority of streams sampled, as 75% of the sites had a transparency of 50 centimeters or greater (Table 1). This was not unusual given the time of year and lack of rainfall prior to sampling. For one site in Butler County, the transparency reading of 51 centimeters was the highest reported for this site to date. The lowest transparency values were 17 and 19 centimeters for sites in Buchanan and Johnson counties, respectively. For the site in Butler County, 17 centimeters was one of the lower values reported for this site. For the site in Johnson County, past monitoring has reported similar low transparency measurements.


    Table 1.  IOWATER Statewide Snapshot Sampling Results for October 18, 2002.



    # of samples

    Min Value


    Max Value




    Water Temperature

    degrees F








    pH units







    Dissolved Oxygen














































                          Note:  Three sites that were monitored were dry:  two in Lucas County and one in Black Hawk County.
                                * The maximum transparency reading that can be recorded using the transparency tube is 60 centimeters.

     Future Statewide Snapshots

     The IOWATER program gratefully acknowledges everyone who took their time to monitor sites as part of the first statewide snapshot sampling. We plan to build upon this first event by coordinating a statewide snapshot sampling in the spring and fall of every year. The spring 2003 snapshot is scheduled for Saturday, May 24, 2003, and the fall snapshot will be conducted again in October, in conjunction with National Water Monitoring Day.

    For a more detailed summary of the first statewide snapshot, including a comparison of data to streams sampled statewide during October as part of Iowa's long-term stream network and maps showing results from the snapshot, visit the IOWATER Web site at 



    Get Involved in Upcoming Snapshot Events

     Saturday April 12
    Whitebreast Creek Watershed
    (Marion, Lucas, Clarke, and Warren Counties)
    Contact:  Angela Biggs
    [email protected]

    Saturday May 10
    Middle Wapsipinicon River Watershed
    (Tripoli to Independence)
    Contact:  Vicki Wilson
    [email protected]

    Tuesday May 13
    Muscatine County
    Contact:  Matt McAndrew
    [email protected]

    Tuesday May 20
    Scott County
    Contact:  Heidi Carr
    (563)391-1403 (ext. 3)
    [email protected]

    Saturday May 24
    IOWATER Statewide Snapshot Sampling
    Contact:  Lynette Seigley

    Sample your regular monitoring site between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Then before May 31, submit your data to the IOWATER web site.  A summary of the data will be sent to those who submit data, and the report will also be posted on the web site.  If interested but unable to sample on May 24, you can sample on Friday May 23 or Sunday May 25.



    River of Words:  Share Your Creativity
    Brian Soenen, IOWATER Natural Resources Interpreter

    Nothing stimulates the mind and inspires the soul more than the artwork or poetry of our children. Perhaps it’s their innocence, or possibly even their ignorance, which brings fresh outlooks, new perspectives and truth to their work. For whatever reason, the imagination of a child is something to be treasured, nurtured and encouraged. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The artwork and poetry created from a child’s imagination provides us with their perception of reality, which may ultimately lead to the truth.

    IOWATER is pleased offer the children in your lives the opportunity to express themselves through art and poetry via the River of Words (ROW) program, an international poetry and art program designed to nurture respect and understanding of the natural world. If you know a child aged five to 19 years (no college students – elementary and high school students only) who may be interested and willing to share their talents, we want their artwork and poetry! Entries for River of Words may be as simple or as complex as you chose. Perhaps the children undergo an intense watershed investigation – everything from a watershed driving tour to benthic macroinvertebrate studies – which, upon completion, they choose to write a poem or draw a picture illustrating their watershed experience. Or, perhaps, a short trip to a nearby water body may be all it takes to get the creative juices flowing. The beauty of art and poetry is that knowledge of science is not a prerequisite to participate. The thoughts and feelings we get when we simply observe and participate in the natural world around us will suffice.

     Participation in ROW is free – except postage. All entries must be postmarked by February 15 to be entered in the 2003 competition, however, entries are accepted year round (entries postmarked after February 15, 2003, will be entered in the 2004 competition). For specific information (artwork and poetry requirements, due dates, contact information, etc.) please visit the ROW Web site at, or contact me (Brian Soenen). Essentially, ROW entries are sent to ROW headquarters in Berkeley, CA, where they are entered into the international competition. Grand-prize winners receive a free trip to Washington D.C., where they are honored for their talents. After the international competition is held, remaining entries for the state of Iowa will be sent back to IOWATER so that we may hold a statewide ROW contest of our own. Good luck and happy ROWing!




    Trained in 2000?  NOW HEAR THIS

    It is time to check over your IOWATER supplies to make sure they are in tip-top shape, especially the reference color ampoule plate in the CHEMets Dissolved Oxygen kit.  This plate DOES have an expiration date.  Carefully pull the plate out of the black case and check the back.  If the ampoule reference plate is expired, you need a replacement for accurate readings.  To receive a replacement or any resupply materials please contact Jackie.  Be sure to brush up on the IOWATER Resupply Policy below.


    IOWATER Resupply Policy

    Because of the need for future materials for your monitoring, and the need of the IOWATER program to justify the expense of continuing to supplying these materials, we have created an "IOWATER Program Criteria for Receiving Additional Monitoring Equipment and Supplies." These criteria are as follows:

    To receive additional consumable IOWATER monitoring supplies (CHEMetsâ Dissolved Oxygen replacement supplies, CHEMetsâ Phosphate replacement supplies, Hachâ Nitrite-N/Nitrate-N test strips, Hachâ pH test strips, Hach Chloride titrators, or Micrology Laboratories, LLC. Coliscan EasygelÒ bacteria monitoring supplies), you must at a minimum submit to the IOWATER database:

    - One IOWATER Level 1 Stream Habitat Assessment
    - One Biological Assessment, and
    - Three Chemical/Physical Assessments

    These will be calculated on the basis of one "monitoring season" of January 1 to December 31 of a given calendar year, and will be supplied upon request for reasons of supplies becoming expired, or supplies depleted because of monitoring activities.

    To receive additional non-consumable supplies, due to breakage, loss, or expanding of a monitoring program, the above criteria must be met in addition to a written request sent to the IOWATER program.  Items may include transparency tubes, fiberglass tape measures, aquatic thermometers, benthic nets and other items.

    All supply requests will be handled under the sole discretion of IOWATER staff and may be contingent upon availability of requested materials. The IOWATER program may discontinue this policy at any point in time, especially due to financial constraints.




    3rd Annual Water Monitoring Conference
    Sponsored by Iowa's Ambient Water Monitoring Program
    February 19-20, 2003
    Scheman Building - Iowa State Center
    Ames, Iowa

    Register Online at! - Deadline is Feb. 14.

    - Changes in beach monitoring
    - Pesticides in Iowa lakes
    - Factors that affect our groundwater resources
    - Discussion of 2002 Impaired Waters(303d) List
    - How volunteer data is making a difference
    - And much more!

    Poster Displays Welcome!

    Sponsored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Iowa Geological Survey. To register for the conference, visit and look for the link on the front page. For additional information or to reserve your poster display space, contact Stefanie Forret.




    IOWATER Staff

    Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources
    Wallace State Office Building
    502 E. 9th Street
    Des Moines, IA 50319

    Jacklyn Neely
    Interim IOWATER Coordinator
    [email protected]

    Lynette Seigley
    Research Geologist
    [email protected]

    Brian Soenen
    IOWATER Natural Resources Interpreter
    [email protected]
    Stefanie Forret
    Information Specialist
    [email protected]

    /  Coordinator /  (515)281-6640

    / Field Coordinator /  (515)281-4476

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