DNR, UI Propose Cooperative Agreement on Water and Geological Services

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A cooperative agreement between the University of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will result in additional research being conducted on the state’s water and geological resources.

The agreement, which still requires final consideration and approval by the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) at its October meeting, would transfer a number of groundwater and geological activities by contract to the University of Iowa’s Department of Hydroscience and Engineering.

“This agreement allows the university to leverage existing state resources and obtain more grants to conduct valuable research,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.

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“We have a unique opportunity to link the strengths of two great Iowa institutions, the DNR and University of Iowa,” said Gipp. “This agreement will greatly increase the geological and hydrological research capabilities in Iowa because the university has one of the most highly regarded research programs anywhere in the world while still retaining the very positive relationships that DNR has established with business and industry.”

Gipp said the agreement with the University of Iowa would allow for services to be provided to the industries of the state that require geological and groundwater research information.

“This agreement also frees up the DNR to focus on regulatory obligation with which it is entrusted and to use our analytical expertise to support our water quality monitoring and watershed improvement program,” said Gipp.

Key functions that would be undertaken by the University of Iowa under the proposed terms of the agreement include:

  • Surveying the natural resources of the state in all their economic and scientific aspects
  • Investigating the characters of various soils and their capacities for agricultural purposes, streams, and other scientific and natural resources
  • Producing detailed maps and reports of counties and districts, embracing geological, mineralogical, topographical and scientific details
  • Cooperating with the United States Geological Survey and other state and federal organizations in making topographic maps and studying geological problems of the state
  • Preparing special reports and bulletins of scientific value or containing information of immediate use to the citizens of Iowa
  • Coordinating with the State Geologist to publish and distribute deliverables, maps or reports
  • Providing specific information required by the DNR for regulatory and other obligations
  • Maintaining and analyzing a repository of Iowa geologic samples collected from drilling and other activities.

The position of State Geologist would still be a position within the Iowa DNR. Important functions that would remain within the DNR include:

  • Perform groundwater modeling and well forecasts.
  • Generating and maintaining sourcewater protection reports and data base.
  • All water monitoring duties including the data base.
  • Geographical Information System (GIS) service to DNR and other state agencies.

“We believe that alignment of these different functions within the University of Iowa and the Department of Natural Resources will strengthen the research capabilities we have within our state and allows both entities to concentrate on their strengths. This will ultimately provide for more efficient and effective services for the citizens of Iowa,” said Gipp.

If the agreement is approved by the EPC, Iowa would join Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska as states that have geological survey functions associated with state universities.

“The fact that other states have similar structures to what we are proposing was not a factor in our decision-making, but it does indicate that this has been a successful model with some of our neighboring states,” said Gipp.