Iowa’s Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program

IOWATER - Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program

What is IOWATER?

IOWATER is Iowa's citizen volunteer water monitoring program.  IOWATER trains citizens to conduct basic water chemical, physical and biological measurements.  We provide you the equipment and tools you need to start understanding and protecting Iowa's valuable water resources.  Get involved now -- sign up for an IOWATER workshop near you! 

The IOWATER Mission: To protect and improve Iowa's water quality by raising citizen awareness about Iowa's watersheds, supporting and encouraging the growth and networking of Iowa's volunteer water monitoring communities, and promoting water monitoring activities as a means of assessing and understanding Iowa's aquatic resources.


  • Expand the amount of data collected on Iowa's waterbodies.
  • Increase the availability of water quality data to citizens.
  • Provide a balanced approach for citizens to become involved in protecting and improving streams, rivers and lakes.
  • Develop opportunities for citizens to experience and discover the clean water.

IOWATER Strategies

  • Provide training programs for volunteers that will improve the quality and quantity of water data collected
  • Support existing volunteer water monitoring efforts. Establish outreach programs to increase citizen awareness of and responsibility for local water resources.
  • Provide a framework of information for citizen groups to use in actively promoting responsible decision making in protecting local water quality.
  • Assist new partnerships and alliances throughout Iowa in designing and implementing water monitoring projects.
  • Facilitate communication among volunteer groups, local landowners, and government agencies, to promote sharing of data and resources.
  • Support a statewide volunteer database, available to all, for baseline water quality information and establishing long-term water quality trends.
  • Integrate IOWATER into conservation education programs in Iowa.

Getting Started

The first step in getting involved in IOWATER is becoming a trained, certified volunteer at Introductory Workshop. Introductory Workshops are generally held during the period from May through September. Intro Workshops are 8 hours in length and consist of some classroom time and outdoor, hand's on learning. Upon completion of the workshop, you will be a certified IOWATER Citizen Monitor. You'll receive all the materials you need to monitor Iowa's streams, lakes, and ponds at the workshop. Check out the Workshop section below to sign-up.

Click Here to Submit Data

Introductory Workshop

Volunteers can become certified in IOWATER volunteer water quality monitoring by taking the Introductory Workshop. During this 8-hour workshop, volunteers are trained in the basics of monitoring streams and lakes and how to submit data to the DNR. Volunteers learn simple techniques to measure the chemical, physical and habitat quality of their local water resources.

2017 IOWATER Introductory Workshop Registration Form 

2017 IOWATER Introductory Workshop Registration Form

Biological Workshop

After a volunteer becomes trained in the Introductory workshop, they can choose to also become trained in Biological Monitoring. During this 8 hour workshop, volunteers learn to collect, identify and count the number of aquatic critters (benthic invertebrates). Note: You must be a Certified IOWATER Volunteer to register for an IOWATER biological monitoring workshop.

Bacteria Workshop

After a volunteer becomes trained in the Introductory workshop, they can choose to also become trained in Bacteria Monitoring. During this 4 hour workshop, volunteers learn to collect water samples for bacteria, grow the bacteria on plates and count the number of E. coli bacteria.  Note: You must be a Certified IOWATER Volunteer to register for an IOWATER advanced workshop.

Workshop Schedule

Workshops are currently being scheduled for 2016. If you are interested in a workshop being held in your area, contact Mary Skopec (IOWATER Coordinator) at or 515-725-3434

Are you looking for a way to get involved with IOWATER monitoring and meet other volunteers in your area? If so, consider participating in an IOWATER snapshot sampling event. During a snapshot event, multiple sites throughout a geographic area are sampled within a short period of time. And the best part about participating in snapshot sampling events is that you don’t have to be an IOWATER volunteer monitor – ANYONE can participate!

2016 Snapshot Schedule

Coming Soon!

If you are organizing a river cleanup in 2015-16 and want to be included in a calendar of events, please email your event to with the event name, date, site, contact, email, comment/website. Upcoming events will be listed by month.