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Over seventy-five percent of Iowans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Assessments of Iowa’s groundwater quality and quantity are necessary to address public health concerns, help communities, industries, individuals, and ecosystems meet their water needs, and ensure the sustainability of this resource. Groundwater monitoring efforts have benefitted from collaboration between numerous groups, including the IDNR’s Water Monitoring Section, the Iowa Geological Survey (now a part of the University of Iowa’s Institute for Hydraulic Research), the US Geological Survey (USGS), the State Hygienic Laboratory (SHL), the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contaminants (CHEEC), municipal water operators, state parks, county conservation boards, and well drillers.
Ambient Groundwater Quality Monitoring
Objectives of Iowa’s ambient groundwater quality monitoring program are as follows:
1) To characterize the quality of groundwater by aquifer and region.
2) To evaluate long-term trends in groundwater quality.
3) To assess new or emerging issues of groundwater quality concern.
Seven major aquifer groups provide water for Iowans: alluvial aquifers, sand & gravel aquifers, Cretaceous (Dakota) sandstone, Silurian-Devonian bedrock, Mississippian bedrock, Pennsylvanian bedrock, and Cambrian-Ordovician bedrock (the Jordan Aquifer). To achieve the objectives listed above, the “core 90,” a set of representative municipal wells, were regularly sampled from 1982-2006, then again in 2012. In late 2014/early 2015, samples were collected from a subset of these wells expected to to be vulnerable to surface contamination. Raw water samples have been analyzed for several groups of contaminants, including basic water quality parameters, nutrients, pesticides, dissolved metals, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), radionuclides, atrazine and chloroacetanilide herbicides and their degradates, and pharmaceutical compounds. Groundwater data has previously been accessed using the IASTORET application, and efforts are currently underway to migrate data into an EQuiS database. These and other historical groundwater data have also been included in a geodatabase which is available on the NRGIS library (under state-wide data/hydrologic/ground waters), along with contoured water quality data layers for select bedrock aquifers.
IDNR has collaborated with academic institutions, federal and state agencies, and others to conduct the following groundwater quality studies:
Links to recent studies will be posted when they are made available. Reports completed by the Iowa Geological Survey can be found at the IGS Publications website hosted by IIHR.
For more information, contact: Claire Hruby, Geologist ph: 515.725.8202 email: email@example.com