Source Water Ag Collaborative Supports Drinking Water Protection Efforts

May 6-12, 2018 is Iowa Source Water Protection (SWP) Week, which coincides with National Drinking Water Week, a national observance of the value of drinking water.  The Iowa Source Water Ag Collaborative would like to highlight successful drinking water protection efforts in Iowa and support locally-led, collaborative work to protect sources of Iowans’ drinking water.

Iowa communities are creating SWP plans, which help guard the water source — whether an aquifer, lake or river — that they draw their drinking water from.  Communities work with the Regional SWP Coordinator and other partners in the Iowa Source Water Ag Collaborative, which can provide Iowans information and resources to protect their drinking water sources.  Every community’s source water is unique and developing and implementing SWP plans must be locally-led to address local conditions.

In Griswold, a local SWP team effort resulted in developing a SWP plan and applying for grants that led to installing cover crops in 75% of the area surrounding the municipal wells. By planting cover crops, the risk of nitrate entering Griswold’s drinking water source decreases, soil erosion reduces, and overall soil quality improves.

The local SWP team in Elliott implemented their plan, which included restoring a 22-acre site near the town’s well to a wetland and native grass buffer.  The goal of restoring the wetland is to reduce the risk of nitrate in the groundwater, provide wildlife habitat, and create an outdoor classroom for a nearby elementary school.

Plainfield’s SWP team is in the process of implementing a revised SWP plan that will seed cover crops on 100% of the cropland within their well’s capture zone in the fall of 2018.  Many other communities are developing or implementing their plans including Deloit, George, Gilbertville, Holstein, Ida Grove, Jesup, Kingsley, Lost Nation, Manchester, Manning, McGregor, Rock Valley, Sanborn, and Waverly.

To address aging infrastructure and scarce resources, many Iowa communities are developing source water protection plans that when implemented will reduce treatment costs for their drinking water.  The Iowa Source Water Ag Collaborative is ready to partner with these communities to coordinate and develop resources.  The Collaborative encourages awareness and education to continue positive engagement of Iowans in partnerships that enhance and protect Iowa’s source water.  For more information on source water protection in Iowa, visit

CONTACT: Jeff Vansteenburg, SWP Program Coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 641-424-4073,


The Collaborative Partners include:

  • Agribusiness Association of Iowa
  • Conservation Districts of Iowa
  • Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development
  • Heartland Co-op
  • Iowa Corn Growers Association
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources – Source Water Protection Program
  • Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
  • Iowa Geological Survey
  • Iowa Soybean Association
  • Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture-Farm Services Agency
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service
Alex Rausch