State of the Iowa River Report



The Iowa River Friends (IRF) released the “State of the Iowa River Report” at its annual meeting at the Grimes Farm Conservation Center near Marshalltown, which included participants from along two-thirds the length of this 5,501 square mile watershed stretching from Hancock to Louisa counties. The report notes several signs of progress in the Iowa watershed along with chronic impairments and deficiencies.

Over the last twenty years, assessments of river life at more than 12 locations along the river have shown “poor” to “fair” biological quality.  “Excessive sedimentation, nutrients (phosphorus and nitrate) and the loss of habitat have contributed to the decline,” the Report said.  However, “a few locations around Gifford and Eldora have indicated “good” biological communities.”   Seventy-three stream segments and nine lakes in the Iowa River watershed have at least one impairment.  These include (in order of frequency), bacteria, mercury in fish, biological, algae, ammonia, coal tar, organic enrichment/low dissolved oxygen, and others.

More encouraging is the growth in the number of watershed improvement projects for some of the creeks and portions of the river.  IRF President Mel Schlachter pointed out that local efforts can make an impact because the people involved know their sub-watershed, whether urban or rural or both.  “At the same time there needs to be awareness of the big picture and people working together up and down stream.  And more funds need to be available to meet the challenges already described.”

Iowa River Friends also encourages human involvement with the river and its creeks and streams, from paddling, fishing and river cleanups, to festivals, youth education and nature walks.  “The more people who love this river,” said Schlachter, “the more the river will improve.”

The summary report is available here: 2016 State of the Iowa River Summary

Photos from the Annual Meeting, “Life in the Iowa River”

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