Story County Develops First of Its Kind Water Quality and Interpretation Plan for 2021 - 2030

April 5, 2021

AMES, Iowa — The Ames-based not-for-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa along with staff from Story County and eight other organizations, including the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, have developed a first of its kind countywide comprehensive water quality monitoring plan for 2021 – 2030.

This completed plan is a result of an effort facilitated by Prairie Rivers of Iowa who assembled a 24-member planning team representing Story County Conservation, City of Ames, City of Nevada, City of Gilbert, City of Huxley, Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Izaak Walton League, Story County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Story County Community Foundation. Starting in April of 2020 the planning team met monthly through December to learn how water monitoring helps understand how to identify water quality issues and solutions detailed within the plan.

“Water quality is very important to the Ames community so when provided the opportunity to join with other organizations to make more impact within Story County, we saw this as an important collaboration,” states City of Ames Municipal Engineer Tracy Peterson. “This plan is a first of its kind in Iowa where a countywide plan has been developed. It provides a working document for meeting goals and strategies as the planning team continues to meet and support effective, practical stream and lake water quality monitoring efforts.”

The monitoring and interpretation plan creates a roadmap to guide work towards four primary goals that include increasing water quality awareness, the expansion of monitoring efforts, identifying and promoting actions that improve and sustain water quality and resiliency of lakes and rivers while strengthening relationships between current and future partners.

Specific chapters in the 86-page report outline the county’s current state of water quality, what action steps are needed for obtaining accurate water quality data, how and where that data is collected and how to sustain monitoring through 2030.

“Many Iowans grew up playing in creeks, lakes and rivers. They want to make sure their children can do the same without being exposed to harmful bacteria,” says Prairie Rivers of Iowa Watershed Educator Dan Haug. “We can use water monitoring data we’ve collected to know where problems exist, take the appropriate precautions and fix it.”

Haug further explains, “Farmers, water treatment plants and local governments are working to keep nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil, thus out of our rivers, lakes and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. Readers of the report will get a sense of the challenges with water monitoring and how we need to work going forward to gather and interpret the data for the public to understand what water quality concerns we have and then plan to develop steps taken by responsible parties to improve conservation efforts.”

The planning team will continue to refine and complete the actions needed to implement the goals and strategies to understand water quality and measure improvement within Story County. Read the entire plan. More information about Prairie Rivers of Iowa at