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Volunteer Water Monitoring

Note: The DNR has discontinued the IOWATER Program as of January 2016. Any use of the term by other parties or organizations does not indicate affiliation with or sponsorship by the DNR or the State of Iowa.

Volunteer Monitoring Fact Sheet

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:

  • The team building and community aspects of IOWATER were some of the most useful takeaways and positives reported by participants.
  • Regular, sustained participation and activity relied on team efforts and the teams valuing the data they generated.
  • Water monitoring volunteers were much more likely to follow up and engage in other watershed-scale project activity such as planning or advocacy.

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.

For more information contact Steve Konrady: or 515-204-1456


To get started, check for local watershed projects or with conservation groups in your region:

For new and existing locally-led volunteer monitoring projects: