IOWATER, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' volunteer water quality monitoring program, empowers citizens to take a proactive approach to water quality. By monitoring the waters in their own backyards, Iowa's citizens ensure the protection, longevity and productivity of high quality water resources. They also help evaluate, assess, and improve waters of lower quality.
By becoming an IOWATER volunteer, participants are not only provided with information and monitoring equipment, but they are also given the freedom to monitor wherever and whenever they choose. The program brings people closer to the landscapes that surround them and encourages them to develop a sense of place within the watersheds in which they live. This connection between ourselves and the water resources that give us life leads to the understanding, respect, and protection of Iowa's water bodies long into the future.
The following was written by IOWATER Volunteer Dave Ratliff in regards to his participation in his first Snapshot Sampling event in Iowa and Johnson Counties on September 20, 2003.
To all my friends:
One day has passed since last we meet. Twenty-four short hours since a wonderful four-hour adventure of our lives. In those short four hours that stretched to six, we met many and learned much. We met new friends, learned new ways, new skills and many of us learned the difference between North and East.
We learned that our map reading skills need a little polish and that 14-inch boots can fill in 15 inches of water. We learned it takes a team of three to remove the leg of one member from a foot of mud.
And we learned that cars just washed the day before collect dirt well on their adventures down those old dirt roads. We learned that the clean cars interiors are able to remove the mud from the shirts, pants and boots just from the creek.
We learned there is no difference between the terms “discharge” and “flow” because they will both get your butt wet when too high.
We learned the definitions of terms such as D.O., pH, Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Transparency, E. Coli Bacteria, Coliform Bacteria and ‘wash your hands before you eat’.
We learned there are two 8:00’s on Saturday mornings and that mothers all want to know how their kids got so muddy.
Mostly we learned what little we really know about the water that flows down the stream.
We learned that our ‘ol German friend with the funny hat sure makes a fantastic BBQ pork sandwich and a great bowl of beans, and we learned that one serving was not enough after a few hours in the stream.
We learned all these skills from the teachers who had taught us before and who taught us again that day. We learned from the staff of IOWATER, USGS, EPA, Boy Scout leaders, Girl Scout leaders, grade school teachers, high school teachers and so many volunteers, without whose time and talents none of this would have been possible.
To Old Mans Creek, Clear Creek, Ralston Creek, Snyder Creek, Muddy Creek and those other watersheds we waded into twenty-four short hours ago: We learned more about you. Your veil of secrecy has been removed. We have started to learn how the water moves into and through your watersheds. We have learned about the little bugs that live in your water and call it home. We have seen the beauty of your water and the trees, flowers and grasses that grace your shorelines. We have seen the birds, butterflies, deer, raccoons and others that call you home.
We learned how the wastes and man-made chemicals affect you. We learned how our neglect has eroded your banks, silted your bottom and polluted your waters. We learned that all men are responsible for your future. We learned that your life has been affected by all of us. We learned that the bridges that cross you create different ecosystems. We learned that people’s desire for more land has straightened your meandering channels. We learned that the loss of buffers has created more silt to choke your streambeds. We learned that the wastes of our towns and homes are changing you. We learned that our lack of respect and our lack of knowledge of your water is hurting you.
But we are learning. The small group of people who entered your waters on the 20 th of September is going to be back to learn more. Next Spring we will once again invade your waters with our students, teachers, children and other volunteers to learn about your waters. We will return with improved skills based on the knowledge of our last experience, with more volunteers and more questions.
We will be returning with a quest of more knowledge.
We will be back, thanks to all of You who helped to make this day happen and increased our awareness of our environment.
Community Awareness by Participation
Dave Ratliff, Project Leader
Johnson and Iowa County Watershed Coalition
"Dave wrote that piece after his first snapshot sampling event in
September of 2003. Since then, he's learned a lot more about Clear Creek
- and when I say a lot, I mean thousands of hours, thousands of stream
assessments, and a lot of hurdles, setbacks and successes. To just
briefly explain, Clear Creek starts from a tile line that carries raw
sewage from one of Iowa's 739 unsewered communities. We know this
because Dave used a wire mesh trap to catch the evidence. Unfortunately,
it's graphic, gross, and still happening. Over the last three years, we
have learned a tremendous amount
about unsewered communities, and while it's been a slow process, actions
for improvement have begun. Dave has been the hero throughout this
entire process, working with school groups, media, and anyone who wants
to learn - he is the most unselfish person I have ever met when it comes
to giving of his time and talents. And he has spent thousands of hours
himself collecting samples."
-IOWATER Coordinator, Brian Soenen
To view programs that were highlighted on this site in the past, visit our highlighted program archives.
Tuesday, 27-Nov-2012 10:41:40 CST