Applications Now Being Accepted for Urban Water Quality Demonstration Projects

Funding available to help install and showcase water quality practices in urban areas

DES MOINES – The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today requested pre-applications for projects located in urban areas that are focused on improving water quality.

Projects should focus on conservation measures that reduce a property's contribution to water quality degradation, runoff and flooding by incorporating practices such as bioretention cells, wetlands, native landscaping and other approved nutrient reduction practice technologies.

“Iowans in both the rural and urban areas of our state are taking on the challenge of improving water quality and we are excited to start taking pre-applications for another round of urban projects to join the 22 ag projects that are currently underway through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture.  “We hope that interested communities, watershed groups or other organizations will take this opportunity to learn about the cost-share funding that is available and consider applying.”

Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCDs), counties, county conservation boards, cities or other units of government, not-for-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public water supply utilities or watershed management organizations are eligible to submit applications. 


In addition to demonstrating urban conservation practices, projects should include strong outreach/education components to distribute information on these practices to promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies for achieving reductions in nutrient loads to surface waters.  Successful projects will serve as local and regional hubs for demonstrating practices and providing practice information to homeowners, municipalities, businesses, and local communities.

The maximum three-page pre-application must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 8, 2017.  Pre-applications selected to submit a full application will be notified by January 12, 2018 and the full applications will be due on February 9, 2018.  Projects selected to receive funding will be announced in early March.

Project pre-application guidance can be found on the Department’s website at under “Hot Topics” or can be requested by contacting the Department’s Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality at 515-281-5851.

Currently, 34 Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Projects have been funded, nine in 2015, thirteen in 2016 and twelve in 2017. The state has awarded over $2.45 million in funding and partners and landowners participating in the projects will provide over $6.22 million to support urban conservation efforts.


Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey created the Urban Conservation program in 2008 and has urban conservationists that work to educate communities, businesses, developers and homeowners about practices that can be used in urban areas to reduce runoff and improve water quality.


Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters.  The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.


The initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.  State assistance is generally limited to 50 percent on most practices and must be matched by the farmer, landowner or other source.

Earlier this year Northey announced that record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient reduction practices on their farm through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s statewide water quality cost share program. More than 2,600 farmers signed up to try cover crops, no-till/strip-till or nitrification inhibitor on more than 270,000 acres in 98 counties.  The state will provide nearly $4.8 million in cost share funds to match the $8.7 million investment by Iowa farmers.

In addition to the statewide cost share, there are also currently 56 existing demonstration projects located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the initiative.  This includes 15 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 34 urban water quality demonstration projects.  More than 220 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $32.3 million dollars to go with over $21.7 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $340 million in state and federal funds have been directed to programs with water quality benefits in Iowa last year. This total does not include the cost share amount that farmers pay to match state and federal programs and funds spent to build practices built without government assistance.

More information about the initiative can be found at

Will Myers