Where Does Our Water Come From?
The City of Cedar Rapids obtains its drinking water supplies from shallow vertical and collector wells constructed in the sand and gravel deposits along the Cedar River. Those deposits form an underground water-bearing layer called an alluvial aquifer. Because of continuous pumping of the City’s wells, most of the water in the aquifer is pulled from the river. The rest of the water is supplied as water percolates up from a deeper bedrock aquifer or down from the top of the ground.
Our drinking water from those wells benefits from natural filtration through the riverbank. This natural sand filtration has proven beneficial, pre-treating the water before it ever reaches the City’s two treatment plants (both conventional lime-softening facilities).
In order to most effectively manage our water resources, the Cedar Rapids Water Division has worked with state and federal agencies to complete a source water assessment, identifying potential contamination sources in the Cedar River watershed. The results of that assessment, paired with a continuous monitoring program, help us better understand our watershed. We have confirmed that some contaminants,including nitrate, herbicides and bacteria, enter the Cedar River watershed upstream from our wells. The watershed of the Cedar River upstream from Cedar Rapids is over 6,500 square miles and extends into southern Minnesota. Monitoring of these contaminants will continue to ensure a strong watershed protection program.
The City is also partnering with conservation-minded organizations and upstream agriculture producers to provide financial and technical assistance to landowners who wish to implement best management practices that help keep nutrients on their land and out of Iowa waterways. The Middle Cedar Partnership Project is a five year project that began in June of 2015.
If you are interested in reviewing our source water assessment or any monitoring results, please contact the Cedar Rapids Water Division at 319-286-5910.