DeLong to Lead Iowa State's Water Quality Program

New leader wants Iowans to feel their connection to water quality

June 23, 2021, 11:52 am | Catherine DeLong

Catherine DeLong.AMES, Iowa – The newest manager of the Water Quality Program with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach knows the issues and concerns that are on Iowans’ minds.

Catherine DeLong, who began her new position June 14, had previously worked as a water quality specialist with the Conservation Districts of Iowa and as a special projects and policy director for the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

DeLong will now lead the initiatives of the Water Quality Program, which continues to educate Iowans about the science of water quality and how individual and collective actions can help to build resilient water sources in Iowa.

“My goal is to help Iowans have a stronger connection to water quality and feel like it is something they all have the power to do something about,” said DeLong, who earned her master’s degree in soil and environmental science from Iowa State in 2014.

According to DeLong, water is a resource that all Iowans depend on, whether for drinking, recreation, agriculture or industry.

She looks forward to connecting researchers to practitioners and to the general public, as they work together to translate the work of the university into concepts that are accessible and interesting to the general public.

“Having a stronger connection to water quality is one of the things that we can all work on,” she said.

Iowa has many water quality concerns including bacteria, which can be sourced from improperly constructed septic systems, manure spills and stormwater runoff. Another concern, given that most of Iowa’s land is agricultural, is runoff and leaching from farm fields. 

“We are delighted to have Catherine join the team as water quality program manager,” said Jamie Benning, assistant director for Agriculture and Natural Resources with ISU Extension and Outreach. “She brings great experience in partnership building, developing innovative approaches for reaching agriculture and conservation stakeholders, and we look forward to continued growth and impact of the program under her leadership.”

Benning is the past manager of Iowa State’s Water Quality Program and has worked directly with DeLong on conservation projects when Benning held the position.

DeLong said she’s especially excited about getting more Iowans to see water quality as the result of a systems-based approach – the idea of using multiple approaches and practices together, for multiple benefits. This approach can lead to improved water quality, as well as improved wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration and improved economic value of property.

DeLong is working on a number of grant-based projects to improve water quality in Iowa, and said she is looking forward to working with other specialists within Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“I’m really excited to have Catherine join the Agriculture and Natural Resources team,” said Adam Janke, assistant professor in natural resources ecology and management and extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State. “Her unique training and experiences are really going to advance our efforts toward helping Iowans improve our water quality and enjoy all the socioeconomic benefits clean water provides.”

For more information, visit the ISU Extension and Outreach Water Quality web page. DeLong can be reached at 515-294-5963 or


Shareable photo: Catherine DeLong.

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