Dam in Coralville, Iowa

Dam near the Iowa River Power Restaurant (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

Can you imagine a day without water?

October 19, 2023 | Kriss Nelson

Water is essential to all living things.

To help highlight the need for this vital substance, Imagine a Day Without Water, a National Day of Action, was developed. This year, on Oct. 19, the campaign highlights how communities and organizations value and use existing water resources.

“It’s an important time to reflect on what the value of water is to our daily lives,” says Roger Wolf, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) director of conservation.

For agriculture, whether it is through programs such as watershed management, drainage water management, water monitoring and conservation efforts, ISA and our farmers are committed to improving water quality and thinking about its management.

“We have programs working to build stronger soils for cleaner water,” says Wolf. “Whether that is reducing erosion and improving soil health using cover crops and reduced tillage, we are working to help Iowa agriculture be responsive and deliver sustainable natural resources.”

What would no water mean for farmers?

“It’s important to think critically about the value of water - there would be no crops. No food,” says Wolf. “This is a time to think about just how important water is to our production system and how important our production system is to people's everyday lives.”

This is especially true in times of drought.

According to Wolf, Iowa’s crops use nearly 20 inches of water annually. On average, Iowa will receive close to 34 inches of water a year.

Unfortunately, rainfall may not happen at ideal times when the crop needs it the most, or sometimes doesn’t come at all, as many parts of Iowa have been dealing with drought conditions this past couple of years.

“We can see firsthand what the impacts of the drought are,” says Wolf. “Water for crops is sparse, tile lines and streams are drying up and many of our larger cities depend on that water supply from our rivers.”

Low-flow water conditions mean the water supplies are even more vulnerable to pollution and contaminants. It can become challenging for utilities to meet water demands. Farmers “getting more crop for the drop” is a way of thinking about how farmers can produce even during drought. This is where RCFI’s drainage water capture and recycling can be an effective water management strategy, paying dividends in drought conditions.

About Imagine a Day Without Water

Imagine a Day Without Water serves as a National Day of Action to unite communities and policymakers to advance greater and more equitable investment in water systems. With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, which includes over $50 billion dedicated to improving water infrastructure, the time is ripe to advocate for continued, sustainable water infrastructure investment in communities that have lacked adequate resources for far too long.