Central Iowans wade into water quality

posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Water and Land News

Katy Heggen, Iowa Environmental Council
office: 515-244-1194x210, Heggen@iaenvironment.org

Central Iowans wade into water quality

May 5, 2015 (DES MOINES) – Whether it’s to walk along the shoreline, dip a toe in, fish, boat or paddle, many Iowans head to the state’s lakes, rivers and streams this time of year. Tomorrow, over 40 central Iowans will wade into the water for a different reason: to participate in the Polk County Water Monitoring Snapshot.

The Snapshot, held twice a year in May and October, brings together volunteers to collect water samples at over 70 sites on rivers, streams, lakes and ponds in Polk and eastern Dallas County. Together, participants compile a comprehensive “snapshot” of water sources in the state’s largest urban area and provide invaluable data to environmental, state and water agencies.

WHAT: Polk County Water Monitoring Snapshot
WHEN: Wednesday, May 6, 2015 | 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
WHERE: Volunteers will meet at the Des Moines Izaak Walton League facility (4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines) for training from 8:30-9:30 a.m. before heading out in groups of two to three people to sample water at various sites.

Media are welcome to attend the event. If interested in attending the volunteer training, we recommend arriving between 9 and 9:30 a.m. If interested in accompanying a group, we recommend arriving at 9:30 a.m. or contacting Water Program Director Susan Heathcote at 515-491-8980 to be connected with a group in-field.

“Before the Snapshot, there was very little information on the quality of any water source in the Des Moines area,” Heathcote said. “We couldn’t answer questions like ‘how does our water compare to other water sources,’ and, ‘how has the quality changed over time?’ Now, we can compare our data with previous years’ and with that of other counties across the state and country.”

The Snapshot, which started in 2004, is sponsored and organized by the Iowa Environmental Council, the DNR IOWATER program, Des Moines Water Works, the Des Moines Izaak Walton League, and the Raccoon River Watershed Association. The event uses DNR’s IOWATER equipment and supplies to do field tests and collect water samples, which are then analyzed by Des Moines Water Works at their lab.

The Snapshot drew its inspiration from a similar program in Scott County. Several other watersheds, counties and municipalities across Iowa have created snapshot programs of their own, but the Scott and Polk County programs remain the most consistent and thorough.


The Iowa Environmental Council is an alliance of diverse organizations and individuals working together to protect Iowa's natural environment. Since 1995, the Council has worked toward creating a safe, healthy environment and sustainable future for Iowa, focusing on water and land stewardship, clean energy and air quality.