Five soil and water conservation districts in eastern Iowa have been awarded grant money to increase the scope of ongoing water quality improvement projects. The Benton, Black Hawk, Clayton, Winneshiek and Washington county districts will receive a combined total of $4.1 million over the next three years.
These monetary grants are funded through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and support collaborative, community-based projects in priority watersheds that help reduce the nutrient levels in Iowa’s water. WQI funds may be used to install priority conservation practices like wetlands, bioreactors, cover crops and saturated buffers. These practices are scientifically proven to reduce nutrient loads and are critical to helping the state achieve the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
“Improving water quality is one of the most important issues we’re facing today,” says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig. “These community-based projects are examples of the impact we can make when public and private partners and landowners work together to put conservation practices on the ground. Over the last three years, these projects have made measurable progress in the effort to improve water quality and soil health. Our Iowa Ag Department is proud to support their efforts to build on this success.”
Middle Cedar River. The Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive $803,975 over the next three years to add conservation practices around Hinkle, Mud, Opossum and Wildcat Creeks, parts of the Middle Cedar River watershed. This is an extension of the work already happening around Wolf, Rock and Pratt Creeks. Private partners and landowners will contribute $1.3 million. Since the Middle Cedar River water quality improvement project began in 2014, over 15,000 acres of cover crops have been planted, and one bioreactor and one saturated buffer have been added.
Miller Creek. The Black Hawk County SWCD will receive $1.4 million in state funding over the next three years to expand its water quality improvement projects to include Rock Creek, which is adjacent to Miller Creek. Both creeks are part of the Middle Cedar River watershed. Private partners and landowners will contribute $1 million to help fund the project.
Since the Miller Creek water quality improvement project began in 2014, the district has seen an uptick in the use of conservation practices: 35,750 acres of cover crops have been planted; eight bioreactors and eight saturated buffers have been installed with others planned; and two wetlands are under construction.
Turkey River. The Clayton County SWCD will receive $603,500 over the next three years to broaden its water quality improvement projects to include Howard Creek. This increases the scope of the work happening around Upper Roberts and Silver Creeks, portions of the Turkey River watershed. Private partners and landowners will contribute $451,000. Since the Clayton County WQI project began in 2014, farmers and landowners have implemented almost 13,000 acres of cover crops, 59,000 feet of terraces, one water and sediment control basin, and other grassed waterway and CRP buffer practices.
The Winneshiek County SWCD will receive $524,751 over the next three years to extend its water quality improvement projects to include Bohemian and Otter creeks, located in the Turkey River watershed. This is in addition to the practices being added around Brockamp, Burr Oak, Rogers and Wonder Creeks. Private partners and landowners will contribute $1.4 million. Since the Turkey River water quality project began in 2014, farmers and landowners have planted more than 15,000 acres of cover crops and added six wetlands, among other practices, in the watershed.
West Fork Crooked Creek. The Washington County SWCD will receive $779,500 over three years to scale up its ongoing water quality efforts in the West Fork Crooked Creek to include Long Creek. Private partners and landowners will contribute $5.4 million. Since the Crooked Creek WQI project began three years ago, farmers and landowners have planted almost 34,000 acres of cover crops, installed two bioreactors, one saturated buffer and three wetlands, among other practices.
Other state-funded WQI projects
In addition to the five WQI projects happening in eastern Iowa, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will provide funding to expand water quality projects happening in western and central Iowa:
- Sioux County SWCD will receive $872,700 over the next three years to implement additional conservation practices within the West Branch of the Floyd River.
- Wright County SWCD will receive $786,267 to expand its conservation efforts happening within the Boone River watershed.