The water we use; drinking, laundry and bathing, is so important but often taken for granted. Most people are provided water from wells, rivers or larger bodies of water and the sources of water play a significant role in its quality.
The water from wells is often "hard" from the minerals deep underground. Water from rivers is influenced by the businesses or people living upstream, in the watershed. In cities the water may be treated with chlorine to safeguard against bacteria, processed mechanically to reduce nitrates; softened to reduce minerals or fluorinated for dental hygiene. The number of treatments or processes increases the cost of a plentiful quality supply of water.
Plants and animals also need an ample supply of clean water. Young animals may become weak or die if the water contains too much bacteria or nitrogen and adult animals may become weak or sick. Phosphorus or chemicals in large quantities may cause plants and animals to be stunted or die. Another effect of contaminated water, often not recognized immediately, is the change in the natural balance of plants and animals.
Clear water in streams or lakes, flourishing wildlife and open road ditches to catch drifting snow all indicate the use of recommended conservation practices. Farmers, businesses and cities have technical and financial assistance available from the federal and state governments. We all need to know about what management works, is affordable and how to incorporate conservation stewardship into our community.
"Water Quality - Iowa Farmers Care" is a workshop and demonstration program designed to highlight recommended practices in order to maintain and improve the water leaving our fields and properties. On Tuesday more than 20 examples of soil, water and wildlife conservation practices will be on display at the Ann Smeltzer/Iowa Learning Farm, one mile south of Otho. From midmorning until midafternoon the emphasis will be to teach about water testing and the methods and effects of how water is managed. At 4 p.m. the Iowa secretary of agriculture, Bill Northey, and other state leaders, scientists and progressive agribusinesses will be featured telling about and demonstrating projects on the farm site.
The farmer, other agriculture businesses, the environmentalist and the consumer all care about our water supply and its quality. Ann Smeltzer left a legacy of caring about the environment. The Ann Smeltzer Charitable Trust in partnership with the Iowa State University Iowa Learning Farm have provided a location and venue to learn more about how production agriculture and safeguarding our natural resources are compatible.
The public is invited to a free meal and the opportunity to learn about management practices that are affordable, recommended and practical to enhance living in Iowa. For more information call Karen Hansen at the Webster County Conservation, 576-4258.
Jim Patton is the Iowa State University regional Extension education director.