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Iowa DNR Awards Watershed Improvement Projects

Six contracts with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Division of Soil Conservation for five watershed improvement projects and one water quality-farming education project were approved Dec. 20 by the Environmental Protection Commission.

The projects are funded by Section 319 of the Clean Water Act Amendments for nonpoint source management programs through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nonpoint sources of water pollution are usually caused by rain or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the water moves, it picks up and carries natural and human-made pollutants that end up in lakes, rivers, wetlands and ground waters.

The projects were selected by grant proposals and a DNR committee review process. Each selected watershed project is part of a wider effort with other partners to work within an approved Watershed Management Plan.

Approved watershed projects:
Clear Lake Enhancement and Restoration Project ― $384,320 to work with watershed residents to switch to practices that reduce phosphorus and debris going into Clear Lake for the purpose of improving water clarity. Funding will also partially pay for a watershed coordinator position and public outreach activities. This project is part of a larger effort to restore and enhance Clear Lake.

Black Hawk Lake Watershed Project Phase 1 ― $454,332 to target farm, urban and public lands within the watershed to adopt practices to reduce phosphorus loading to Black Hawk Lake by 12.5 percent. Terraces, water and debris control basins, pasture management, grass waterways, stream bank stabilization, no-till, managing fertilizer so it stays in the soil and rain gardens are some of the practices that will achieve this reduction. A Black Hawk Lake project coordinator position will also be funded.

Water Quality in Rathbun Lake 2011 ― $290,055 to enable Rathbun Lake Project staff to target four new sub-watersheds to reduce debris and phosphorus delivery from priority land used primarily for row crop production from Jan. 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Project activities will assist landowners to apply best management practices including terraces, grass waterways, grade stabilization structures and debris basins.

Duck Creek Watershed Management Plan ― $177,640 to reduce E. coli bacteria loading to Duck Creek through cost share to help priority urban areas with projects that help absorb rain in the ground and a pet waste disposal campaign. Funds will also pay for a Duck Creek watershed coordinator position. Additional project funding will be provided by Partners of Scott County and the cities of Davenport and Bettendorf.

Price Creek Watershed Project Phase 1 ― $366,453 to accomplish about 30 percent of the best management practices that will help with bacteria problems and reduce soil and debris erosion. Target practices are reducing livestock access to waterways, managing fertilizer to stay in the soil, using terraces, methods to keep soil in place, and vouchers for septic cleanouts, among others. Funds will also be used to provide funding for a Price Creek watershed coordinator position.

Iowa Learning Farms: Building a Culture of Conservation — Farmer to Farmer: Iowan to Iowan ― $132,636 for an Iowa State University educational project that uses farmer volunteers in five primary soil regions in Iowa to demonstrate and discuss innovative conservation practices on their farms that minimize nonpoint source pollution. Among the practices to be demonstrated include cover crops, no till, strip till, perennial plantings and wetlands.

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