Engineer given award for water conservation efforts in, around Iowa

Ivy Christianson

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recently handed out its first ever Impact Award for Extraordinary Partnership to an ISU alumni.

Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, honored Dean Lemke of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship because of his involvement in the department’s water resources bureau.

Lemke graduated from Iowa State with a degree in agricultural engineering and is currently a professional engineer.

Brian Meyer, program director for communications in the agriculture college, said Lemke has been a great partner to work with.

“Dean has been working closely with our faculty and our scientists on different ways that we can work together on water quality issues and priorities,” Meyer said.

Lemke has also worked hard on agricultural issues not only in Iowa, but with farmers who live down the Mississippi, discussing how water quality issues affect all people.

Lemke was recognized during the Iowa-Mississippi Farmer to Farmer Exchange. In late May, a group of Iowa farmers and agricultural leaders traveled to Mississippi to participate in the first leg of the exchange, which is focused on developing relationships between agricultural leaders in both states and promoting the sharing of information and technologies to address the hypoxic area in the Gulf of Mexico.

Meyer said Lemke has collaborated with many organizations, including Iowa State.

“He’s been a great partner for Iowa State, in that he really wants to look at a scientific way for going forward,” Meyer said.

Lemke began working with ISU researchers to develop the Iowa Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in 2000. This particular program provides planning and financial support for the construction of nitrogen-removal wetlands that filter water from cropland.

Not only has Lemke spearheaded those activities, but he was also the motivating force in reestablishing the Iowa Water Resources Research Institute at Iowa State, now renamed the Iowa Water Center.

He operates family farms in northern Iowa as well.