Iowa Learning Farms Book Offers Insight into Water Quality Perceptions

Ames, Iowa — Iowa Learning Farms (ILF) has announced the publication of Water Quality Matters To Us All, a new book that provides insight into the attitudes and practices of agencies and stakeholders involved in protecting Iowa’s water quality.

“Perhaps one of the greatest environmental challenges Iowans face in the coming decades is that of maintaining clean sources of water for our livelihood and recreation,” said Jackie Comito, ILF program manager. “Water quality is an issue that cuts across the rural-urban divide in Iowa and the Midwest.”

Farmers must protect their fields from soil erosion and manage nutrients. Rural communities must contend with shrinking economic resources to provide clean water and adequate sewer treatment as facilities age and deteriorate. Urban areas must realize that non-permeable surfaces lead to high rates of runoff that send yard fertilizers and other industrial chemicals into waterways. “Iowa’s clean water is everyone’s responsibility because watersheds know no personal or political boundaries,” Comito said.

Based on listening sessions over a three-year period (2008-2011) with farmers, urban residents, Soil and Water Conservation District commissioners, and field staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Water Quality Matter To Us All details the institutional, community and individual impediments towards water conservation and curtailing nonpoint source pollution.

The book pulls no punches in examining how attitudes and beliefs about the reliability of scientific evidence, personal responsibility, land ownership and government intervention can prevent cooperation between the agencies charged with protecting natural resources from pollution and individual polluters. By relying heavily on interview excerpts, the book chronicles the conflicts in the state that are preventing concerted action in protecting water quality.

“This analysis gives the reader a candid, unfiltered peek into the diverse and often conflicting views of the many different players engaged in trying to improve water quality for future generations of Iowans,” said Allen Bonini, Supervisor of the Watershed Improvement Section of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “The solution to these challenges will require more than money and technology – it will require people to see themselves and their behaviors as part of the solution.”

To request a free copy of Water Quality Matters To Us All, email: or write to Iowa Learning Farms, 219A Davidson Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA  50011-3080; please include a mailing address. For more information about the Iowa Learning Farms program, visit the website:


Book cover image - 1.6MB