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.

IOWATER Partners

Our diversity is our strength! IOWATER is a statewide partnership effort of:

Area Education Agencies
Community Colleges of Iowa
Conservation Districts of Iowa
Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association
Iowa Association of Naturalists
Iowa Conservation Education Council
Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Iowa Division of the Izaak Walton League of America
Iowa Drainage District Association
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
Iowa Resource Conservation & Development
Iowa State University Extension
Iowa Water Pollution Control Association
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Trees Forever
University Hygienic Laboratory – University of Iowa 


Watershed groups across 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 Schedule below to sign-up. 

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 numer 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 have interest in a workshop being held in your area, contact Mary Skopec (IOWATER Coordinator) at or 515-725-3434

Stream Cleanups

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.

IOWATER Snapshots

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 thoughout 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!

                    2015 Snapshot Schedule

                October 7 (Wednesday)
                Polk County Snapshot
                Please RSVP to Susan Heathcote by Monday October 5
                Location: Izaak Walton League
                Contact: Susan Heathcote
                Tel: 515-244-1194 x 205

                October 10 (Saturday) 
                Squaw Creek Snapshot (Ames area) 
                Contact: Rick Dietz

                October 10 (Saturday)
                IOWATER Fall Statewide Snapshot -- Introductory Level Certified Volunteers Only, please.
                Contact: Contact: Lynette Seigley 515-725-3433 or

                October 24 (Saturday) Dry Run Creek Snapshot (Cedar Falls)
                Dry Run Creek Snapshot (Cedar Falls) 
                Contact: Joshua Balk
               (319)296-3262 ext. 304


Click Here to Submit Data

History of the IOWATER Program

Frequently Asked Questions

IOWATER Brochure

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