Throughout her career advocating for water quality in Iowa, Susan Heathcote has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments in a state where success is hardly a foregone conclusion. Iowa has one of the nation’s most altered landscapes due to intense agricultural production, leading some people to question whether it is even possible for the state to have waters considered “healthy” or “natural.”
Susan rejects this pessimism outright. As a scientist, she understands natural systems, and she knows change is possible if her fellow Iowans can summon the will to act. Again and again, she has spurred action to reverse the destruction of Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams. Susan’s personal mission extends well beyond water quality as an abstract set of standards—the anges
she creates have improved the resiliency of Iowa’s landscape and made the state a better place to live.
For sixteen years, Susan has worked for the Iowa Environmental Council, spending most of that time as Water Program Director. She has provided technical leadership for the Council on a number of issues, including agricultural nonpoint source pollution, livestock manure management, water quality monitoring, water quality standards, and restoration of impaired waters.
Susan’s commitment to Iowa’s waterways is not bound by her job at the Council. She spends much of her personal time educating and inspiring others to become involved in their protection and appreciation. She is a founding board member and treasurer of Iowa Rivers Revival, a statewide organization formed to help Iowans restore, protect and enjoy Iowa’s rivers. She has also participated in Project AWARE, a weeklong river clean up, every summer for the last eight years—while on vacation.
In 2003, Susan was appointed by Governor Vilsack to serve as Chair of the Impaired Waters
Restoration Subcommittee for the Governor’s Water Summit where she worked with a diverse
team of stakeholders to develop recommendations to address Iowa’s water pollution problems.
In 2007, Susan was appointed by Governor Culver to serve a four year term on the Environmental Protection Commission, which oversees Environmental Programs at the Iowa
Department of Natural Resources.