Can Clean Water Reinvigorate Rural Communities?

How can small rural communities become high-quality places to live? According to Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, clean water and a strong environmental ethic are good places to start. He’s hosting the Clean Water—Livable Communities Conference on November 9 at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center. The event will feature panelists and discussions on the state of Iowa waters, the correlation between robust soils and clean water, funding clean water solutions, economic opportunities resulting from clean water, and creating a statewide resolve addressing water quality.

The keynote speaker is rural economics visionary John Ikerd, whose talk is entitled “Water: The Lifeblood of Livable Communities.” A Professor Emeritus from the University of Missouri, Ikerd is a nationally recognized leader in sustainable agriculture and sustainable economics.

Malloy sees a significant opportunity for small rural cities to create livable communities that will lead to population growth and economic vitality. “A clean environment becomes the basis of our future economic success,” he says. “Iowa has a choice to make. A compromised environment will repel those seeking a high quality of life, but clean water and healthy soils will attract those looking to live in our rural communities and invest in Iowa’s new economy.”

Iowa has been working for decades to protect and improve water quality, but Malloy believes more can be done. Eroded sediment from farmland, nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizer and manure, and urban pollution are all of great concern. Malloy sees the future of water quality improvement in cooperation, partnership, and collaboration. “The accountability for clean water in Iowa lies with all of us,” he says. “Funding our clean water priorities is imperative.”

Clean Water—Livable Communities will be held Thursday, November 9, at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Registration is $30 and includes lunch. To register, visit