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Happy Valentine's Day from the Iowa Environmental Council!
This year, we're celebrating with stories about water we love

Angelisa Belden - Communications Director

To me, water = love.  Fishing, floating, canoeing, boating – these activities were always done as a family or with friends, and to me are packed with memories of time spent with ones we loved.

Jordan Bles - Director of Fundraising and Development 

I love how much my daughter loves water, and getting to play with her in it. Whether from starting swim lessons at an early age or watching her fearlessly wade up to a waterfall in Decorah, I love watching the formative memories already beginning to take hold.

Kerri Johannsen - Energy Program Director

Every spring as the snow started to melt, a rising creek would appear in the cow pasture that was my front yard. My sisters and I would be knee-deep in the water, wading through the cold rush and the tall grass. I remember this as a feeling of pure joy, belonging to the outdoors, being part of the spring surging of new life everywhere I looked and the water was the first sign.   

Jordan Oster - Energy Outreach and Advocacy Manager 

Walnut Creek is a narrow stream that runs through the geographically narrow city of Clive. Growing up, this tributary of the Raccoon River was a place for my early exploration of nature.

Mike Schmidt - Staff Attorney

My early memories of playing outside include visits to Aldrich Creek in Ida County, where I would build rock dams to make it easier to catch minnows, chubs, crayfish, frogs, and macroinvertebrates (though I just called them bugs). Going to the creek was a highlight of every trip to my aunt and uncle’s farm and taught me about the wildlife native to Iowa.

Alicia Vasto - Water Program Director

I grew up two blocks from the North Raccoon River in Adel. I’d characterize my love for the river as complicated. One of my earliest memories is of the flood of 1993. I remember my parents piling our furniture and belongings up like an island in the center of the dining room to protect them, seeing our neighbors build a wall out of sandbags to hold back the waters. Growing up, I explored the riverbanks with my friends, learned how to paddle, and alternately floated and dragged an innertube through the shallow waters during a float. 

Kristen Weaverling - Energy Communications Manager

Growing up, my family would visit my grandparents who lived in Osage. During those trips, we’d often visit Spring Park. The riverside park sits alongside a peaceful stretch of the Cedar River where I have fond memories of sipping cool water from the spring, camping, hiking, skipping rocks, and learning how to fish. 

Going boating

Exploring Dunnings Spring

The Raccoon River

Finding macroinvertibrates (aka bugs)

Spring Park


Share your #IWWLoveStory with us on Instagram

It’s Valentine’s Day and we want to see the Iowa waters you love! Share your favorite Iowa water photo on Instagram and you could win a ticket to Environmental Mixology on March 7th.  

Here’s how: share your favorite Iowa water photo, tag @iowawaterwatch, and use #IWWLoveStory in the caption. Share our #IWWLoveStory post in your stories and get an extra entry to win. Post your photo by the end of the day today, February 14th.

We’ll announce the winner on Instagram on February 15! 


NRS at 10: why aren't Iowa's waters safer and cleaner?

In 1998, the EPA-led Gulf Hypoxia Task Force asked 12 states with the biggest impact on the Dead Zone — of which Iowa is the leading contributor — to write nutrient reduction strategies to reduce the fertilizer pollution each state sends to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Iowa adopted its NRS in 2013; the Iowa Legislature formalized it in law in 2018. The approach to reducing fertilizer pollution relies exclusively on voluntary measures.

What can we say a decade later about progress on Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy? Not much, say past IEC executive directors in a column originally published in the Des Moines Register. 

A look at Iowa's Watershed Management Authorities

A new report from the Center for Rural Affairs examines the efficacy and current standing of Iowa's Watershed Management Authorities, intergovernmental entities formed to advance goals related to flood resiliency and water quality. 

WMAs have implemented more than 2,600 conservation practices across the state and invested tens of millions of dollars in federal, state, local, and other funding. 

One common finding from the report? A need for sustainable funding for staff. Read the report for more about the successes and challenges facing Iowa's WMAs. 

Judge hears arguments in lawsuit to save Bloody Run

On January 20, 2023, the Judge Scott Rosenberg heard testimony in the Iowa Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited lawsuit charging the Iowa DNR with violating state law and departmental rules when the agency in 2021 approved a plan to dispose of manure from Supreme Beef LLC’s 11,600-head cattle operation in the headwaters of Bloody Run. 

The lawsuit alleges that Supreme Beef's Nutrient Management Plan was based on incorrect calculations.

Read an update on the lawsuit provided by Larry Stone with the Committee to Save Bloody Run. 

Relay of Voices updated with new Iowa stories

Last month, we shared a guest blog post from Victoria Bradford Styrbicki about her project, Relay of Voices, which includes stories and an interactive map of her journey from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the Gulf. 

New stories from Iowa have been release on the Relay of Voices website. From day 30 in Lansing, "The River Beckoned," south to day 44, "Opening Up," in Burlington, Victoria shares photos, insights, and lessons learned on her trek through Iowa.  

Check out the project at relayofvoices.com and continue on the journey south toward the Gulf.  


What's new in Iowa's water news:

Upcoming water events:

Thinking Like a Watershed - 2023 Virtual Series on Water & Soil Conservation - Feb. 14
PCC Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program - Easter Lake Park, Polk Co. - Feb. 15
• Kayaking Session at Bender Pool - Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Linn Co. - Feb. 19
• Fishing Rod Building Course - Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Linn Co. - Feb. 21
Histories of Systemic Oppression in the Environmental Movement - Virtual, Feb. 22
• Driftless Area Stream Restoration Symposium - Online - March 7 - 8


Iowa Environmental Council
505 Fifth Ave., Suite 850 
 Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2317
515-244-1194 | iecmail@iaenvironment.org

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