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The Science of Improving Iowa’s Water Quality

Iowa Statewide 2016 Stream Nitrate-N Load Calculated

Posted on February 2nd, 2017

Note: the original post was edited 2/27/16 to reflect updated data:   During 2016, IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering along with USGS had 14 real-time nitrate sensors deployed in locations that captured water quality conditions for 82.5% of the water leaving the state of Iowa. From this measured data (average of 217 days per site), I […]

Is January river nitrate a predictor for the entire year?

Posted on January 30th, 2017

January is only one of 12 months, but in fact it is not a bad predictor of where the annual average Raccoon River nitrate will settle 11 months from now. This January, nitrate levels have averaged about 6.7 mg/L. When January nitrate was between 6 and 8 mg/L in the period of 1974-2016, annual nitrate ended up between […]

Summary of 2016 Nitrate: Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers: Corrected 2016 Loads

Posted on January 6th, 2017

    I first posted this last week, and made some mistakes in process. I used English Tons units for the load instead of my tradtional metric tons. Thus the 2016 loading numbers were about 10% higher than what they should have been. This made 2016 at the Des Moines River (at 2nd Ave in Des […]

Climate change and stream nitrate

Posted on January 1st, 2017

What might climate change mean for stream nitrate loads? In the Raccoon River watershed, precipitation has increased about 25% since 1916. This, coupled with land use change (artificial drainage and conversion of native perennial plants to annual crops) has increased average streamflow (discharge) in the river about 250% over the same time period (Figure 1). […]

November Nitrate, Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers

Posted on December 5th, 2016

This year the story continues to be the large loading on the Des Moines River. There is an outside shot that 2016 will be the largest year ever for N loads on the Des Moines. However cold weather in the forecast will likely result in 1991 continuing to be the largest, followed by 2016 and then […]

Raccoon and Des Moines River Nitrate: October and YTD (10/31)

Posted on December 3rd, 2016

A little late with this, but October summaries here. Looks like this year the story is going to be the Des Moines River. I will be looking at some discharge and rainfall data for this basin soon.  

Cedar River Hydrograph-Nitragraph animation

Posted on October 27th, 2016

My last post discussed how Cedar River nitrate loading responded to flood of late September. This post builds on that with some excellent animations created by my colleague, Antonio Arenas. The text below refers to the animation that can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qjrvQd95To&feature=youtu.be. In watersheds with a lot of tile drainage, nitrate concentrations and loads […]

Nitrate Loads Associated with Cedar River Flood

Posted on October 11th, 2016

Cities along the Cedar River and some of its tributaries just experienced an historic flood over the past two weeks, with river stages reaching their 2nd-highest level ever only eight years after the devastating 2008 deluge. The flood also delivered a lot of nitrate-nitrogen to the stream network, where it then reaches the Mississippi River […]

Plate of the Union Water Quality Panel Discussion

Posted on October 11th, 2016

Article written by Hanna Bates, Iowa Water Center. Here is a link to the article: link. Left to Right: Jim Gillespie (IDALS), Maritza Pierre (SASA), Chris Jones (IIHR), Tim Smith (Farmer from Eagle Grove), Hanna Bates (Iowa Water Center), Adam Wright (SASA) Building awareness and creating conversation for action Written by Hanna Bates, Program Assistant […]

Groundwater nitrate monitoring

Posted on October 7th, 2016

Groundwater Monitoring Most of the Iowa Water Quality Information System network is devoted to stream sampling. However, two sensors have been measuring nitrate in groundwater springs at the Iowa DNR Big Spring and Manchester fish hatcheries for the past year. Conclusion: nitrate in northeast Iowa groundwater is really high. Since late last year, nitrate concentrations […]