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Welcome back to the Iowa Environmental Council’s Weekly Water Watch newsletter!

These Friday emails provide updates on E. coli and microcystin beach advisories for our state's public beaches, important water quality news, and water-related events around Iowa. Find more resources and past issues online at iaenvironment.org/iww

There are 4 beach advisories for the week of 5/27:

Backbone Beach (Dundee, Delaware County, IA)*
Beed’s Lake Beach (Hampton, Franklin County, IA)*
Lake Darling Beach (Brighton, Washington County, IA)*
Nine Eagles Beach (Davis City, Decatur County, IA)*

*Data from the Iowa DNR State Park Beach Monitoring Program
**Data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District

Hello Summer and Water Recreation Season!

It’s that time of year again – summer has unofficially arrived with warmer weather, pools opening, and the start of beach monitoring at some of Iowa’s most popular beaches. With that comes the start of IEC’s Weekly Water Watch series. You can rely on us to provide weekly beach advisories and timely water news throughout the summer. Our hope this year, and every year since we started Weekly Water Watch is that more Iowans will appreciate our water resources during the summer months, learn more about water quality, and feel inspired to call for policy change to protect our rivers and lakes. 

Beginning this weekend, Iowa state parks are fully open and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District are conducting weekly beach monitoring. Monitoring will continue through Labor Day weekend. This week, there are *** beach advisories at monitored public beaches.   

You can always find the week’s beach advisories on our Weekly Water Watch webpage. We update the map each week to reflect the latest data and advisories. This is an easy way to check the status of a state park beach you are headed to! 

Why do we care about Iowa’s beaches?  

Iowa’s lakes offer Iowans the opportunity to escape, relax, spend time with friends and family, and have fun. They're critical economic drivers for many Iowa communities, and in some cases, a source of drinking water for thousands of Iowans. IEC provides beach advisory information as part of Weekly Water Watch in an easy-to-understand format that makes it possible for the average beach-goer to plan their trip and learn about the greater scope of Iowa's beach and water quality issues.  Check out the data we’ve tracked on Iowa’s beach advisories.  

Watch our latest video to learn more about the benefits lake recreation provides for local communities. 

What is E. coli and why is it monitored?   

E. coli are bacteria that indicate when fecal matter is present in the water. Some strains of E. coli can cause adverse human health impacts, but the presence of this bacteria typically indicates there may be other harmful pathogens present. Contact with these pathogens can cause diarrhea and skin, ear, and respiratory infections. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are especially at risk. Fecal matter at beaches could come from a number of sources, including improperly operated septic systems or sewage treatment plants, manure spills, stormwater runoff, or direct contamination from waterfowl, livestock, pets, or humans.   

What are microcystin and harmful algae blooms (HABs)?   

Harmful algae blooms (HABs) occur when blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) proliferate in calm, warm, nutrient-rich waters. The cyanobacteria can release microcystin, a toxin that is dangerous to humans and animals. Coming into contact with microcystin by touching or swimming in the water, or swallowing or breathing in droplets, can cause serious illness. Pets can also get sick by coming into contact with an HAB, with dogs being especially at risk of ingesting microcystin, which could lead to seizures and even death. The Iowa DNR issues swim advisories when microcystin is detected at or above 8 micrograms per liter. Iowa DNR issued 23 swim advisories for microcystin last summer. 

Learn more about HABs and microcystin from Iowa experts.

Thank you for reading and following along with us this summer! Have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. 

- Alicia Vasto, Water Program Associate Director


We're just under two weeks away from hosting our Pro H2O on June 9! We hope you'll join us for the celebration featuring a clean water awards presentation, great food and drink, and live music by singer-songwriter Susan Werner.

Get your tickets today to join us in person in Des Moines, Iowa City, or Okoboji, or virtually from anywhere with an internet connection!

Yesterday, we announced the launch of our 2022 Pro H2O Virtual Auction, chock full of items from businesses and individuals who value IEC's water work! Our virtual auction is another way to get involved and support clean water in Iowa. Enjoy a getaway to Lake Superior or the Driftless region in northeast Iowa. Get a gift basket from a local business like Back Country Outfitters, Paws & Pints, RAYGUN, or Bozz Prints. Art for your home, a visit to Blank Park Zoo, the Science Center, or to see the I-Cubs or Iowa Wolves – all of this and more is open for bidding now! Bids will be accepted until 5 p.m. on June 16th. But don’t wait! Stake your claim on these items today and help support the work of IEC to make Iowa a better place to live, work, and explore.


Introducing IEC's New Letter to the Editor Toolkit

Interested in taking action for clean water this summer? A letter to the editor of your local newspaper is a great way to raise awareness and speak up for water! 

IEC has prepared a toolkit to help you write and send your own letter to the editor (LTE).

Check out writing tips and find out how to submit to local Iowa papers. We’ve even prepared some draft language you can draw inspiration from or even adapt to make your own.

If you write a letter and submit it, or would like any assistance, please let us know by reaching out to Communications Director Angelisa Belden at belden@iaenvironment.org.

Watch on YouTube - Petition for Rulemaking: CAFOs and Floodplains

The Iowa Environmental Council (IEC) and Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) filed a petition for rulemaking on May 4, 2022, with Iowa's Environmental Protection Commission, seeking to adopt a floodplain map into state law. The legislature charged the Commission with adopting a floodplain map in 2002 to implement restrictions on feedlot siting, but the Commission never did so. Flooded CAFOs can significantly pollute drinking water, groundwater, and more.

Watch this video as we break down the process and why the adoption of the flood maps are important for Iowa waterways.

Iowa DNR County Creek Sign Grant Program announced

Conservation and natural resource groups interested in building awareness of Iowa’s creeks and watersheds can now apply for grants to put up signage. The Iowa DNR’s Water Quality Improvement program is accepting applications through July 15 for its new “County Creek Sign Grant Program.” The grant will provide between $5,000 and $10,000 per county to install creek signs and watershed signs on county roads or city streets within priority watersheds. The purpose of the grant is to enhance awareness of creeks and watersheds in Iowa.

Application materials are available on DNR’s watershed improvement webpage.


Share Your Summer with IEC on Instagram

Follow us at @iowawaterwatch

Check out Iowa Water Watch on Instagram and give us a follow. Tag us on your photos using @iowawaterwatch and the #iowawaterwatch hashtag, so we can feature your photos throughout the summer with other readers.

Photo by @megan_mcdowell_photography

Photo by @tallgrasstony


What's New in Iowa's Water News

• Going Swimming? Be Mindful of Not-So-Clean Water (Public News Service)
• Drought expected to expand throughout Iowa this summer (Iowa Public Radio)
Boaters in Western Iowa urged to use caution due to low water conditions (Iowa DNR)
DNR to test water for ‘forever chemicals’ in more than 30 cities (IA Capital Dispatch)
Environmental Protection Commission must follow Iowa’s laws (The Gazette)
Union Grove’s Lake, Waterfall and Diverse Flora Pull You In (IA Starting Line)
• Volunteers in the Creek All Week (Prairie Rivers of Iowa)
• Iowa would spend $1 million to revise Iowa’s nitrogen fertilizer recommendations (The Gazette)

Upcoming Water Events

• Turkey River Safari Kick Off - Turkey River Corridor, NE Iowa - May 28
• Whiterock Conservancy Annual Fishing Derby - Coon Rapids - May 29
CLAMP Volunteer Training - Lakeside Labs, Milford - May 31
• Jones County Family Fishing Challenge - Central Park, Jones Co. - June 1
• Redefining the Field EdgeBrent Johnson Farm, Manson- June 1
Sunset Eco Cruise - Rock Creek Marina, Clinton Co. - June 2
Free Fishing Weekend - Iowa - June 3-5
• Upper Wapsipinicon IWA Project Tour - Cedar Rock State Park - June 3
IEC's Pro H2O - Des Moines, Okoboji, Iowa City - June 9
• Clean Creek Festival - Thomas Park, Marion - June 11


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

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