Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Awards $4.1 Million to Expand Eastern Iowa Water Quality Improvement Projects

02.17.2020 - Des Moines, IA - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that five Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) located 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 Soil & Water Conservation 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 (WQI) 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,” said Secretary 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. The Department is proud to support their efforts to build on this success.”
 

Middle Cedar River – Benton Co.

The Benton Co. Soil & 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 – Black Hawk Co.

The Black Hawk Co. Soil & Water Conservation District (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 – Clayton Co.

The Clayton Co. Soil & Water Conservation District 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 Co. 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.  
 

Turkey River – Winneshiek Co.

The Winneshiek Co. Soil & Water Conservation District 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 – Washington Co.

The Washington Co. Soil & Water Conservation District 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.
 

Additional 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 Co. Soil & Water Conservation District will receive $872,700 over the next three years to implement additional conservation practices within the West Branch of the Floyd River.
  • Wright Co. Soil & Water Conservation District will receive $786,267 to expand its conservation efforts happening within the Boone River watershed.

 
To learn more about the state’s Water Quality Initiative or read success stories, visit cleanwateriowa.org/water-quality-initiative.

 

About the Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Water Quality Initiative (WQI) was established during the 2013 legislative session to help execute Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The NRS provides a roadmap to achieve a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters using an integrated approach that includes point and non-point sources working together.
 
The WQI harnesses the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to rally around the NRS and add proven conservation practices to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality in a scientific, reasonable and cost-effective manner.
 
The Water Quality Initiative cost-share funds help farmers and landowners install nutrient-reducing conservation practices around the state. The funds can be used to off-set the cost of cover crops, no-till/strip-till or a nitrification inhibitor, which helps improve soil health, reduce erosion and improve water quality.
 
In 2019, more than 2,900 farmers participated in the program and invested an estimated $10.2 million in funding to match $6.1 million through the state’s WQI cost share fund. Participants included 1,200 farmers using a conservation practice for the first time and more than 1,700 farmers continuing their conservation practices.

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About the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Led by Secretary Mike Naig, the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents that call Iowa home. Through its 12 diverse bureaus, the Department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve our land for the next generation. Learn more at iowaagriculture.gov.
Contact:
Keely Coppess
Communications Director
(515) 326-1616           
Keely.Coppess@IowaAgriculture.gov
      

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