The Getting Ahead of the Watershed Expo in Davenport, IA


Kasey Dresser | March 7, 2018

The Getting Ahead of the Watershed Expo will be held in the Davenport River Center’s Mississippi Hall on Saturday, March 10th from 10am to 3pm. 
This is a free event, presented by students of Davenport North High School and Davenport Public Works, that aims to raise awareness about the quality of our waterways and individual impact on water quality through engaging demonstrations and exhibits.
The event will feature several interactive student and vendor booths with topics ranging from environmentally positive ways to increase the curb appeal of your home to locks and dams and levees.  In addition to interactive displays, a play featuring Franny the Fish, is sure to bring a smile to all ages, while delivering important information about our watershed.
There will also be a 9ft+ root system of native grass Big Blue Stem. The root system is certain to amaze and highlight the ecosystem, soil and water quality benefits of native plants in our landscape.
Attendees will also enjoy theDavenport Community School student artwork on display at the Expo, and to vote for their favorite art piece and booth, as well as enter a drawing for a beautifully decorated rain barrel.
This event is one you won’t want to miss!

A new flood watch for Eastern Iowa

An above view of the IMU showcases the power of the 2008 flood that many Iowans still remember (/studentlife)

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | March 6th, 2018

Flood warnings for Eastern Iowa were released in late February. The Dewitt area is especially susceptible, as the local river, the Wapsipinicon, is expected to rise .3 feet higher than its typical flood level. Though the area is used to flooding, the warnings are still something to heed.

Floods are often caused by a combination of heavy spring rains and melting snow, causing rivers throughout the Midwest to overfill and spill onto their banks, often irreparably damaging property in the process. The Midwest is especially vulnerable to flooding because of the generally temperate climate–snowy winters and stormy springs bring high levels of river water.

While Iowa has not seen a truly disastrous flood since 2008, the Flood Center emphasizes the importance of predictions and preparation. Recent projects around Iowa, such as the raising of Dubuque Street in Iowa City or the flood control system in Cedar Rapids, are just a few of the precautions being taken to guard against future floods. The 2008 flood damaged crops and forced citizens to evacuate their homes, affecting everything from business to college facilities.

The Iowa Flood Center hopes that, by educating people about the dangers of flooding, future flood damaged can be reduced overall.

On The Radio- 2017 Water Summary

Blue in Iowa river (UI International Programs/flickr)

Kasey Dresser | February 19, 2018

This week’s segment summaries the report from the 2017 Iowa DNR’s Water Summary.


The Iowa DNR’s Water Summary Update reported less rainfall than normal for 2017.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

In 2017, Iowa received 33 inches of rainfall which is 2 inches less than the 30 year average. The beginning of the year was drought free but by August the Drought Mitigation Center recorded most of the state showing some form of drought. Most of the dryness was concentrated in South and South East Iowa.

In areas like Marion, Washington, Lee and Wayne counties, annual precipitation deficits of 10 inches or more were common. The annual precipitation levels of 2017 were the lowest since Iowa’s record 2012 drought.

In terms of streamflow, the year started off with high levels after a rainy fall season in 2016. Throughout  the rest of the year streamflow levels remained normal and are currently normal for the majority of the state.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.


Iowan cities reducing pollution to fulfill Paris Climate Change Agreement

Wind Power (Ian Hill/ flickr) 
Kasey Dresser | December 29,  2017

Since Trump has officially pulled support from the Paris Climate Change Accord, mayors within the U.S. are pledging for their cities to help meet the goals. 50 plus mayors signed the Chicago Climate Charter to meet Paris Climate Agreement’s pollution reduction goals during the North American Climate Summit. Des Moines, Dubuque, Fairfield, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and several other Iowan mayors have now stepped up to do the same.

There are 3 main goals to reduce pollution:

  1. Utilizing Iowa’s wind power, achieve 100% renewable energy for municipal electricity needs by 2022.
  2. Buying Electric Vehicles (EV) to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Replacing buildings with incandescent bulbs to LEDS and getting rid of any old appliances or softwares.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is excited that cities are stepping up and plans to make arrangement that will tailor to Iowa’s benefit.

Sustainability volunteers needed for University of Iowa Dance Marathon

Recycle (Erin’s Rainbow, flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 22,  2017

Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropy dedicated to supporting oncology patients being treated at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It is a year-round fundraising  organization that culminates with a 24 hour long big event in February.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with recycling, food waste, and more. The event is February 3rd- 4th.

For questions contact David Strabala, DM operations coordinator or Michael Marchione DM volunteer coordinator.

Sign up here:

EnvIowa Podcast: Ingrid Gronstal Anderson provides an inside look at the UI Power Plant

EnvIowa Logo original size
Jenna Ladd | October 2, 2017

Episode 8 of EnvIowa features an interview with Ingrid Gronstal Anderson, Environmental Compliance Specialist with the University of Iowa Power Plant. Ingrid explains the unique challenges faced by a university-based utility and recent strides the plant has made toward a renewable energy portfolio, which includes a growing miscanthus energy crop biomass program.

The facility is working closely with university administrators to achieve UI President Harreld’s goal of becoming coal-free by 2025.

The EnvIowa podcast is also available on iTunes and Soundcloud, a complete archive of EnvIowa episodes can be found here.

EnvIowa Podcast: Dr. Larry Weber on flood mitigation and water quality improvement projects

EnvIowa Logo original size
Jenna Ladd | June 29, 2017

In episode 7 of EnvIowa, we sit down with Dr. Larry Weber to learn more about the Iowa Watershed Approach. Dr. Weber is a UI professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of IIHR–Hydroscience and Engineering, which is the parent organization of the Iowa Flood Center.

Dr. Weber explains how the $96.9 million project came to be and how it improves quality of life for Iowans while protecting our natural resources and health. He tells of successes the Iowa Flood Center has had with its flood reduction and water quality improvement programs and discusses the organization’s fight to maintain state-funding earlier this year.

The director and his team work many long days and spend hours each week driving around the state to each of the nine watersheds included in the Iowa Watershed Approach. For Dr. Weber, his work’s motivation is clear. He said,

“As an Iowan, I grew up here, I’ve worked and spent my whole career here, and I plan to retire here. I want a livable state in which we can enjoy our water and natural resources, enjoy being in the outdoors, enjoy interacting with the rivers, lakes and streams of Iowa, and, you know, programs like the Iowa Watershed Approach, I think, are vital to the long-term sustainability of our resources in Iowa.”

The EnvIowa podcast is also available on iTunes and Soundcloud, a complete archive of EnvIowa episodes can be found here.

Nine watersheds are a part of the Iowa Watershed Approach’s effort to reduce flooding, improve water quality and protect natural resources. (Iowa Watershed Approach)