Guest Opinion: Iowans can take great pride in improving water quality

For the past 20 years, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other water quality experts have steadily ramped up monitoring efforts to identify vulnerable waterways and areas to improve while compiling the biennial assessment of the state’s watersheds. Iowa is the envy of neighboring states for our wealth of monitoring data and researchers dedicated to water quality improvement.   

Iowa Department of Natural Resources experts say the steady growth of waterways tested and the increasingly stringent standards for each reporting period is driving the two percent increase in water segments making the list.   The DNR says Iowans can be confident the vast majority of Iowa’s waters are safe for recreation and fishing. 

In this report, the DNR removed 27 impaired beneficial uses, such as swimming or fishing from the last report two years ago due to new data.  The DNR says there are many reasons why a water segment may make the list from natural, weather-driven phenomena we’ve consistently experienced, as well as unknown or human-driven impacts such as construction and commercial growth or agriculture.  

While the challenge of improving Iowa’s water quality remains an ongoing effort, Iowans can be confident the monitoring and collaborative efforts to improve Iowa’s water quality are achieving results.  Additionally, this list helps our state and federal natural resource agencies target limited financial and technical resources to where they’re needed most and most effective. 

Iowans have high expectations for our water quality, and it’s clear the State of Iowa, university researchers and other experts are leading the way to identify and guide our water quality improvement efforts.