The Iowa Rural Drinking Water Survey: Water Quality Perceptions and Avoidance Behaviors among Rural Iowa Households
Gabriel E. Lade, Jacqueline Comito, Jamie Benning, David A. Keiser, Catherine L. Kling
August 2022 [22-SR 118]
Lade, G.E., J. Comito, J. Benning, D.A. Keiser, and C.L. Kling. 2022. "The Iowa Rural Drinking Water Survey: Water Quality Perceptions and Avoidance Behaviors among Rural Iowa Households." Staff report 22-SR 118. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.
The Iowa Rural Drinking Water Survey documents drinking water sources, avoidance behavior, testing behavior, and water quality perceptions of over 8,000 rural Iowa households. The study focuses on eight rural counties with low penetration of public water systems and high susceptibility to nitrate in groundwater.
Key findings are:
• Only 10 percent of households tested their water quality in the last year.
• Around 50 percent of households supplement their drinking water with bottled water or water coolers.
• While 70 percent of households report using water filters, just 10 percent report having a filter that can remove nitrate.
• Nearly 40 percent of households believe nitrate is a concern. More households believe nitrate is a greater concern in the state of Iowa than in their local areas.
• A third of households are at high risk of nitrate exposure due to a lack of testing, filtering, or bottled water use.
Further study is needed to identify households at the greatest risk of nitrate exposure and to devise strategies to reach at-risk households and influence their testing and avoidance behavior.