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HomeAbout IGWA & History

 IGWA's Mission:

  • Promote education and research on Iowa groundwater and water resource issues;
  • Improve communication among state agencies, municipalities, the general public, and water resource/environmental professionals;
  • Foster collaboration and information exchange; and
  • Participate in national, state, and local activities related to groundwater management and water resource protection.


Organizational Documents

IGWA Constitution (.pdf)

IGWA By-Laws (.pdf)

Articles of Incorporation (.pdf)

IGWA Board Resources

 IGWA Board Work Directory


 IGWA's History

IGWA was established as an independent statewide association organized for the understanding of Iowa’s groundwater resources. It consistently holds biannual conferences, publishes a premier magazine (IGWA UnderGround - formerly the Groundwater Quarterly newsletter), promotes legislative awareness, and networks with groundwater professionals in neighboring states.


 IGWA: The First Ten Years
by Paul Horick, edited by Molly Arp Newell

How It All Began

In 1983, Iowa news media frequently reported about groundwater contamination problems involving chemical spills, high nitrates, and other incidents that threatened to pollute public and private water supplies. The Iowa Department of Water, Air, and Waste Management (DWAWM), the principal state agency regulating water, was also putting out a monthly list of hazardous substances occurrences. Public awareness reached a new high and people were becoming alarmed about contamination of their water supplies, some 75 percent of which is derived from groundwater sources. At the time I was serving as chairman of the National Well Water Association (NWWA) Regulatory Officials Committee and had contact with regulatory officials from many other states. This gave me a good perspective of national groundwater problems and what other states were or were not doing to meet these problems. Minnesota and Colorado had organized the first state groundwater associations. I invited their representatives to speak at the NWWA meeting in Las Vegas. I also thought we could organize a state association in Iowa comprised of a diverse community of scientists, engineers, and regulatory people who work on our groundwater problems. There was a critical need for an organization where geologists, engineers, and other groundwater workers could meet to talk things over and hold seminars for learning. The timing seem right. I initiated correspondence with Pat Leonard-Mayer, a lead person and the newsletter editor for the Minnesota Groundwater Association. Her patient and thorough replies were very helpful and encouraging to move ahead in Iowa. In the meantime, I discussed ideas with colleagues at the Iowa Geological Survey in Iowa City. The overall response was quite good. I then wrote to a few key individuals around the state to get a broader reaction. They also responded favorably and with offers to help. By then about 25-30 people had indicated a positive response. The next step was to make a mass mailing to numerous geologists, engineers, scientists, drillers, administrators, and other industry representatives in which it was stressed that such a group would fill a need for better communication among the various people working with our groundwater resources and to provide learning opportunities. In short order, about 75 professional/technical people expressed strong interest and support for a proposed IGWA, a definite "go-ahead" signal.

IGWA's First Meeting - Iowa City

In midsummer 1984, I called a preliminary meeting of a core group of 10 people around which I hoped to build IGWA.  The purpose of the meeting was to discuss finances, membership dues, costs of operation, the first general membership meeting, and other matters.  To generate interest, we also wanted to have an outstanding individual such as noted author and hydrogeologist, John Cherry, as the first speaker.  This was later realized through the efforts of Professor Jerry Schnoor who was working on a project with Dr. Cherry.

Prior to this I had sought people to serve as officers and board members and to fill committee positions, rather than hold an election. Although this was some what presumptuous I hoped to avoid any professional infighting and speed up the whole process of getting the fledging organization on its feet. I sought individuals who I felt were good leaders, respected by their peers, and who represented a broad spectrum of private companies, government agencies and academicians. This worked out very well and no one objected. More the 50 organizations were represented in the initial group I approached for membership. This diversity has always been one of our unique characteristics as well as strong points. At the preliminary meeting one of the main questions of discussion was whether we should merge with the Iowa Water Well Association (IWWA), a NWWA affiliated group already existing in Iowa, or to organize separately. We unanimously voted to proceed as a separate organization. IWWA consists primarily of water well and pump installer contractors. The proposed IOWA would be much more diverse including geologists. hydrogeologists, engineers, educators, attorneys, planners, waterworks personnel, rural water department managers, laboratory scientists, irrigators, legislators, industry representatives, the Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Division, the ISWRRI, students, possibly citizen action groups, and others. Of course, drillers were invited too.

The Organizational Meeting - Marshalltown

An IGWA organizational meeting was held in Marshalltown on September 7, 1984.  Before this, I compiled a proposed constitution, by-laws, and articles of incorporation. Ideas were modeled after Geological Society of Iowa documents, the Minnesota Groundwater Association, and the Colorado Groundwater Association. I also prepared an 8-point compilation of IGWA goals and provided these to all prospective officers, board and committee members for additional suggestions. Some changes and additions were eventually made from the collective ideas of these people. About 20 people attended the organizational meeting in Marshalltown to get acquainted, hold a short but meaningful installation ceremony, and have a brief business meeting. The first people to take office for the IGWA were:

President - Jerald Schnoor, Professor, University of Iowa Civil and Environmental Engineering
Vice President/President Elect - Harold Jensen, President, Cary, Shoff Engineering
Secretary - D. Roger Bruner, Hydrogeologist, Iowa Geological Survey
Treasurer - Kenneth Choquette, Iowa Department of Public Health

    Gary Shawver - President, Shawver Well Company 
    Reed Craft - Manager, Waterloo Water Works 
    Donald Koch - State Geologist and Director, Iowa Geological Survey


    T. Al Austin - Director, ISWRRI 
    George Hallberg - Chief, Geology Studies,Iowa Geological Survey 
    Richard Kelley - Program Development Division, DWAWM Jack Virtue - Virtue Engineering
    Robert Libra - Hydrologist, Iowa Geological Survey 
    David Wombacher - District Manager, Layne Western Company 
    Ralph Russell - President, H.R. Green Company 
    Tom Glanville - ISU Agricultural Engineer, Cooperative Extension Service
Meeting Arrangements 
    Glen Vicrkant - North Central Consultants 
    Richard Karsten -WRD, U.S. Geological Survey 
    Gregory Meyer - Buell Winter Mousel Associates 
    Robert Drustrup - Program Development Division, DWAWM
    Lon Drake - Professor, UI Department of Geology 
    Michael Burkart - Groundwater Chief, WRD, U.S. Geological Survey 
    Eliza Ovrum - Assistant Attorney General, Iowa Department of Justice 
    James Sass - Peerless Service Company, Well Pump Service

This was a great group for a beginning.  I appointed myself as the newsletter editor because I felt that no one had as much resolve to hold this youthful organization together and the newsletter was one of the best ways to do this. A newsletter would introduce IGWA to a wider audience, explain our goals, identify the leaders, invite other professional/technical people to join, describe programs, and provide opportunities for groundwater scientists to explain their research activity and ideas.

Leadership of the First President, Jerry Schnoor

It was a great stroke of luck to have Jerry Schnoor as our first president. He was recommended by Professor Lon Drake. Schnoor had the technical abilities of an engineer and the love of a research scientist for groundwater and environmental investigation. He also had the enthusiasm and charisma needed to convince others to join the crusade. Jerry's witty and pointed comments in the President's corner articles and editorials in the early issues of the newsletter set the tone for professionalism and vision we desired. Add to that a gift for prophecy, (Vol 1. no. 5, October 1985) Jerry mused on the subject of whether there would be an IGWA 20 years later. He forecast that we would be alive, feisty, and kicking ourselves into the 21st century; predicted incidences of major health-threatening groundwater pollution will continue to be discovered; Superfund will grow to more than 2000 sites; the States will become more involved; incineration and resource recovery will replace land disposal sometime in the 21st century: critical water shortages will occur in urban areas of the sun-belt; and Iowa will be the most desirable place in the union to live (the last with a trace of humor).


IGWA grew rapidly under the dedicated and inspired direction of its founding members.  In its first 10 years, IGWA grew to over 330 individual and 14 corporate members! The founding members continued to contribute through their professions and dedication to IGWA's cause.  IGWA was chiefly responsible for the passage of the Iowa Water Well Contractors certification law.  IGWA also has a history of collaborating with other organizations such as the Iowa Environmental Health Association and Iowa Water Well Association.  IGWA has also influenced education and thought through its programs, newsletters, and individual and collective action and research.