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That's a wrap! IEC looks at monitoring stats for the 2023 beach season

Last week was the final week of summer beach monitoring, unofficially ending the summer recreational season. Thank you for following along with us for the past 15 weeks of Weekly Water Watch. Before we turn our focus to fall, let’s look back at what was a record-breaking year of Iowa beach advisories. 

The drought continued across the state in 2023, likely contributing to more microcystin advisories than average. In the 15 week monitoring period for 39 public beaches, Iowa DNR issued 21 beach advisories for microcystin and 111 for E. coli. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District issued 19 advisories for E. coli on the six beaches it monitors on Iowa reservoirs (Saylorville, Red Rock, and Coralville). 

Lower Pine Lake Beach near Eldora had the most advisories for E. coli: one for every week of the 15 weeks of the summer monitoring period. Since IEC began tracking E. coli advisories in 2014, we’ve never seen a beach under advisory for the entire summer. Similarly, Brushy Creek Beach near LeHigh had the worst harmful algae bloom we’ve seen since 2006; it was under advisory for microcystin for 10 weeks in a row. Lake Darling wasn’t far behind that total, with 8 microcystin advisories this summer.  

If these statistics concern you, you can help! Share your stories and pictures with IEC, submit action alerts or contact your legislator or local officials to express your concerns, or write a letter to the editor or op-ed for your local paper. IEC can help get your piece published. Check out our LTE and Op-Ed toolkit, or contact IEC Communications Director Angelisa Belden for assistance. 

Read the full story in our newsroom for a look at all the notable beach monitoring statistics from the summer of 2023.

Lower Pine Lake Beach, June 2023

Brushy Creek Algae Bloom, Week 4, July 2023


Join IEC for a look at the real bottom line for Iowans when it comes to CAFOs

Over the past three years, IEC filed petitions and comments to improve rules regulating concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Iowa to protect public health and drinking water safety.

In this free webinar, IEC Water Program Director Alicia Vasto and Staff Attorney Michael Schmidt will share background on the rulemaking process, where the current rulemakings stand now, and what IEC has uncovered about the true costs of CAFOs for Iowans. Register today!

New factsheet guides on reducing nitrate pollution at home

While the majority of nitrate pollution can be attributed to massive systems like industrial agriculture and wastewater treatment, we all have the ability to reduce nitrate pollution within our own areas of influence.

In a new factsheet from Nitrate Watch, you can explore ways to mitigate nutrient pollution starting at home. 

View the factsheet and share these helpful tips. 

New IDALS statistics don't reveal actual nutrient pollution improvements

IDALS recently released new statistics on conservation and water quality practice adoption in Iowa in the last fiscal year. 

The agency reported record increases in practices funded and dollars spent on practices from a variety of funding sources. 

Unfortunately, there is still little movement on actual water quality metrics on the NRS dashboard. IEC continues to watch for updated data. 


What's new in Iowa's water news:

Drought conditions reported in 99% of Iowa (Iowa Public Radio)
Linn County is the driest its been in a decade (Gazette)
• Many Iowa river levels too low for safe paddling (Storm Lake Radio)
Manure clean-up underway in tributary of North Raccoon River (Iowa DNR) 
DNR issues two fines for stream contamination from construction sites (Ottumwa Post)
America is using up its groundwater like there's no tomorrow (NY Times) 

Upcoming water events:                              

• Going with the flow: Saturated buffers to improve water quality – Marion Co. - 9/8
Twin Ponds Nature Center 20th Anniversary - Chickasaw Co. - 9/10
Iowa Nonpoint Source Management Planning Public Presentation  – Polk Co. - 9/12
Harmful Algal Blooms: A look beyond nutrients – Virtual - 9/13
Citizen Scientists: Stream Monitoring - Linn Co. - 9/16
LeClaire Silver Creek Cleanup - Scott Co. - 9/16 
• North Fork River Clean Up - Jackson Co. - 9/20
Kayak Greene Castle Rec Area - Marshall Co. - 9/20
The Long Journey of the Great River - Virtual - 9/26
Canoe Greene Castle Rec Area - Marshall Co. - 9/27
Climate Change is Making HABs More Toxic - Virtual - 9/28
Sunset Eco Cruise - Clinton Co. - 9/28
Fall Snapshot - Water Quality Monitoring - Scott Co. - 10/3
Voyageur Canoe Paddle - Clinton Co. - 10/4
Fall Wapsi Float - Linn Co. - 10/7
Maquoketa River Fall Colors Paddle - Jones Co. - 10/13


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

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