The University of Iowa

Manchester Water Source Protection Engineering & Design

Academic Year 
2019-2020
College/Department 
Civil and Environmental Engineering
Project Partner 
Led by 

As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students created design alternatives for water source protection in areas within and surrounding Manchester, Iowa.

The City of Manchester has levels of nitrates that exceed the maximum contaminant level in their groundwater which they utilize as drinking water.  Manchester has found that after rainfall events a spike in the quantity of nitrate in the drinking water supply is seen.  This is likely from the excessive fertilization that has seeped nitrogen into the groundwater system. To deal with this Manchester has been treating a portion of the water with ion exchange and blending that with the contaminated water to bring the quality below the limit set by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This process is expensive and has prompted Manchester to seek other solutions.

The priority of the engineering team was to create a watershed management plan for the prevention of additional nitrates entering the groundwater system. There are several ways to accomplish this and thus multiple alternatives were considered.  Alternatives considered include natural system approaches, well house treatment modification, and public education. 

Alternatives selected are a wetland enhancement with a riparian zone, contour buffer strips, and urban education on nitrates.  Wetland enhancement with riparian buffer strips were designed using resources from the EPA and Ecolotree.  Contour buffer strips were sized and located for most effective remediation using the Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework (ACPF) tool.  This tool utilized geospatial data from Manchester and gave the best set up to retain nutrients in crop soil.  Remediating nitrates from seeping into the groundwater from urban areas were explored and researched from other cities who have educational tools put into place.  Plan sets for the riparian buffer strips and a map for best locations for buffer strips in the cropland were created.  An educational brochure was put together for citizen use to learn more about the importance of less fertilizer usage in lawncare.