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Nothing beats hanging out by the water on a hot summer day! Whether it’s skipping stones, wading in the water to cool off, fishing, floating downstream on an innertube, or even having a mudfight, Iowa has over 71,000 miles of rivers streams that beckon kids of all ages.
In the middle of their mudfight, the kids in this video get a bit of a wake-up call as they hear geese honking and cows mooing nearby. Maybe that MUD isn’t just mud after all?!...
Beyond people, many animals enjoy using the stream, as well, whether it be for a drink of water or to get in and cool off on a hot day. Wildlife including deer, ducks, and geese flock to Iowa’s rivers and streams. However, their waste (poop) can easily contaminate our water bodies. But it’s not just limited to wildlife… everybody poops! Iowa is home to millions of livestock animals, including cattle, pigs, and sheep, in addition to domestic pets like dogs. When rainfall runs over the land, it can easily pick up this animal waste (manure) and carry it to nearby rivers and streams. Fecal coliform bacteria, tiny microorganisms found in the guts and waste of warm-blooded animals, can also travel along with the waste and end up polluting our rivers and streams. Did you know? The droppings from just one small dog can contain millions, or even billions, of fecal coliform bacteria!
What can we do about this? For livestock animals, their waste (manure) can be an excellent fertilizer for crop fields. It’s has much more usefulness there than in our rivers and streams! There are many considerations to keep in mind for managing manure responsibly, and the Iowa Learning Farms offers outstanding videos on Manure Management and Conservation. Keeping livestock, cattle especially, out of rivers and streams is very important for protecting water quality. Fencing cattle out of streams and building stream crossings are two strategies that can reduce the time they spend in the water or near the water. This not only reduces the chances of waste and bacteria ending up there, but it also can promote healthy vegetation growth and reduce streambank erosion. Finally, be sure to pick up after your pets; less poop on the ground means less bacteria in the water. That means healthier water for everyone to enjoy!
Enhanced Learning Activities (recommended for Grades 5-8)