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Volunteer water monitoring has been a primary outlet for the DNR promotion of “citizen science” since 1998. Through the program, communities and individuals alike work with the DNR to better understand their local water quality. In light of ongoing fiscal constraints, a move toward a more sustainable model is necessary to best serve our partner communities, organizations, and citizens.
Evaluation of the previous IOWATER program revealed several themes:
As a result of a review of the previous efforts, DNR is launching a new program to further express and sustain these important themes through a locally-led volunteer water monitoring program.
Volunteer water monitoring is best able to inform local water quality goals if the decision-making and coordination is locally-led. With the help of the DNR to get started, interested communities, watersheds, counties, and regions have an opportunity to take ownership and derive more value from their locally-led volunteer water monitoring programs.
The DNR continues to value volunteer water monitoring for its role in increasing citizen awareness, knowledge, and stewardship of Iowa’s water resources, and appreciates all volunteers that help us achieve our natural resource conservation and enhancement goals.
Iowa has a dedicated network of state and county agencies that fund and promote watershed-scale projects across the state:
The Iowa Watershed Approach and Watershed Management Authorities (WMAs) are another way Iowans are working towards improved water quality:
County Conservation Boards (CCBs) are long-standing DNR partners for local conservation initiatives as well as land, fish, and wildlife management. They also readily participate in watershed and water quality projects and your county conservation board may already have a water monitoring program. More information and contacts can be found with the Iowa Association of County Conservation Boards.
Iowa also has a network of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) with 500 citizen commissioners and helpful teams of technical staff. They also employ watershed coordinators at many of the watershed projects across the state. Their offices are often found in USDA Service Centers.
If you are unable to find a locally-led volunteer monitoring community in your area, consider other volunteer options in Iowa:
County Conservation Boards also commonly need volunteers for programs and seasonal conservation work. Get in touch with your local CCB to learn more.
Teachers interested in water-based programing for their students may benefit from additional resources in the abscence of a locally-led water quality monitoring program in their area. They are welcome to continue or develop a new monitoring program for their region with their school; however, these options provide other outlets for conservation and water quality education:
Training for individual volunteers will be offered by the locally-led volunteer monitoring point person or other trained staff.
The DNR will host several "Train the Trainers" sessions each year as needed to support new projects and point staff.
For more information contact Steve Konrady: Steven.Konrady@dnr.iowa.gov or 515-725-8388
Volunteer monitoring training presentations and manuals are available as a resource for locally-led programs and their training needs.
The local program may edit these documents as needed to suit their specific monitoring strategy and volunteer group.
For more information, contact Steve Konrady: Steven.Konrady@dnr.iowa.gov or 515-725-8388
Locally-led programs have the freedom to store and use their volunteer-generated water monitoring data as they see fit.
The DNR recommends that locally-led programs and their volunteers submit data collected through these projects to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Quality eXchange (WQX), which already houses much of Iowa's previous volunteer monitoring data along with U.S. Geological Survey data and other sources. This unified database is the best way to present water quality data with multiple sources to Iowa's citizens and will supplement the state collected data.
US EPA has a series of tutorial videos for WQX that are hosted on YouTube. Consolidated links are available; however, it may be easier to use the playlists for the Webinars on YouTube.
Datasheet templates are available in the following categories:
Primary Volunteer Monitoring Parameters
Advanced Volunteer Monitoring Parameters
New projects may be eligible to receive starter kits through DNR Water Monitoring. Please complete this PDF request form or the MS Word version and submit for review, following the instructions on the form.
State-affiliated watershed projects and other groups may qualify for state-negotiated pricing of test kits, chemicals, and field supplies through the state's Awarded Contracts and Master Agreements.
Current suppliers through Spring 2018: