Meet Our Members: Iowa Association of Water Agencies
on Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Members of the Iowa Association of Water Agencies are municipal, rural and private drinking water systems. These labels only define how a system is formed under Iowa Code. IAWA does not distinguish between urban or rural, because many municipal water systems provide drinking water to rural areas, including water for livestock facilities. Rural water systems provide drinking water to many Iowa municipalities. Together, IAWA systems provide safe drinking water to more than 1.3 million Iowans and a multitude of visitors to Iowa, at the state fair, pork expo, parks, stadiums, interstate rest areas and many other public events and areas of the state.
Iowa is recognized as a leader in agricultural production of corn, soybeans, hogs, poultry and eggs. Agriculture and the businesses that support it are worth billions of dollars to the State’s economy. Two key natural resources that make it possible for agriculture to be successful are fertile soils and generally plentiful water resources. Each of these resources is dependent on the other. Healthy soils provide absorption or storage of water from rainfall and the natural filtration of water through the soil can remove contaminants. Water is required to germinate a seed that will ultimately produce successful crops. Water is needed to raise livestock. Not only watering the animal, but water is used for cooling, sanitation and the production of animal products such as meat and milk. Healthy productive soils and good water quality must be managed as one system. It is critical to ensuring a sustainable resilient Iowa economy for the future.
It is well documented that the quality of surface and ground water supplying drinking water to the large population centers in the state is poor or impaired many times during the year. The contaminants contributing to poor water quality include nitrates, ammonia, fecal bacteria, sediment/turbidity, phosphorus, algae and cyanobacteria. Exposure to these contaminants can be harmful to public health and may also cause illness and death in pets and livestock. In almost all cases drinking water utilities are meeting or exceeding US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, making Iowa’s drinking water safe. But these contaminants are increasing the challenge for drinking water systems to produce quality potable water and comply with EPA regulations. Drinking water systems support the principle of dealing with contaminants at the source.
Water treatment technology is not designed to treat an ever-increasing contaminant load. To do so would very likely lead to higher water rates that could create a financial hardship for consumers, business and industry and livestock producers utilizing potable water systems. Iowa’s water resources are diverse and how they are managed can and will have far reaching effects. Virtually every Iowan and Iowa’s economy is impacted by the quality of our water resources, so we as Iowans must do a better job of improving and protecting our invaluable water resources.
IAWA’s mission is to work collaboratively with our communities, to lead the way in technology and resource management that ensures Iowans’ access to a water supply that is safe, reliable and cost effective. IAWA members look for opportunities to build alliances for improving water quality and to educate Iowans on the consequences of contaminants to our drinking water sources. Building trust and finding solutions to sustainability challenges is imperative to continued agricultural productivity and a healthy population.
Written by Linda Kinman, Executive Director - Public Policy, Iowa Association of Water Agencies and Iowa Environmental Council board member.
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