The One Water Summit, a national conference hosted by the U.S. Water Alliance, was recently held this year in Austin, Texas. The summit brings together a cross-section of people who work for public utilities, wastewater and flood management, agriculture, the arts and more. It serves as a venue to work on solutions for improved water equity, safe drinking water and innovative water plans sustainable for urban and rural usage across the country.
The Iowa delegation ­— one of 44 at the summit — included 26 people representing government and non-government organizations, educational institutions, utilities and watersheds including Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA).
“The One Water Summit helped me connect with others from around the country who are experiencing similar issues to those we have in Iowa,” said Lee Gravel, watershed coordinator for the Headwaters of the North Raccoon Water Quality Improvement Project. “This has allowed me to evaluate my approach to working with landowners and farmers in the watershed. I’ve taken keys to their successes and applied them in our watershed.”
Charlie Schafer, president of Agri Drain based in Adair, Iowa, was also a member of the Iowa delegation. He believes the Iowa delegation is in a unique position.
“The delegation can strengthen the One Water discussion by educating urban rate payers, regulators and policymakers on the benefits of working together with farmers and landowners as well as local, state and federal agencies,” Schafer said.
Throughout the summit, speakers from across the country referenced Iowa and the positive work being done in the state to improve water quality. Members of ACWA have been working diligently on water quality for 20 years.
“Iowa is busy cleaning up water,” said Preston Cole, Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “That’s the kind of attitude we all have to have. It’s good to know our neighbor is so passionate about this goal.”
The summit concluded with the delegations declaring commitments to action. ACWA chairman Harry Ahrenholtz shared Iowa’s Commitment to Action with the 1,000 conference attendees. The commitment statement declares “to continue the efforts of scaling up conservation practices on Iowa’s landscape to improve water management within the state and downstream. The delegation will bring all willing partners together – urban and rural, public and private, government and non-government organizations – for the common goal of improving water quality while building more resilient landscapes.”