Branstad, Reynolds, Northey Announce 12 Urban Water Quality Demonstration Projects Selected to Receive Funding

DES MOINES -- Today, Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds and Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey announced 12 urban conservation water quality initiative demonstration projects have been selected to receive $820,840 in funding. The 12 projects will provide nearly $1.18 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.

Area communities participating in newly announced projects are: Ankeny, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Clive, Denison, Des Moines, Emmetsburg, Readlyn, Slater, Spencer, Urbandale, Windsor Heights, and Waterloo. 

“Water quality is a very important issue and today’s announcement is the next step for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative, which is continuing the effort to implement the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy,” said Branstad.  “Lt. Gov. Reynolds and I have already visited a couple of the demonstration projects in place and have seen first-hand the work being done by Iowans on their farms and in their communities.”

Reynolds added, “We’re excited to get these 12 new projects underway.  I want to commend and congratulate these communities for taking the necessary steps to support water quality in the state.  We also look forward to continuing our conversation with the Legislature in the weeks ahead to finalize a plan that will continue to grow water quality efforts in the state.”

“The water quality demonstration projects, both those in urban and rural areas, have been incredibly valuable in helping us learn how to best implement these practices and have created a strong foundation as we look to further expand our efforts,” Northey said.

Projects will focus on conservation measures that capture and allow stormwater to be absorbed into the ground and reduce a property's contribution to water quality degradation, stream flows and flooding.  They also include strong partnerships and outreach/education components to disseminate information to promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies for achieving reductions in nutrient loads to surface waters.

Practices which will be installed as part of these projects include bioretention cells, bioswales, native landscaping, permeable pavement, rain gardens, sedimentation basins, soil quality restoration, wetlands and other practices. More information about these and other urban water quality practices can be found here.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received 34 pre-applications for this funding after it was announced last fall and 14 projects were invited to submit full proposals. Twelve projects were selected to receive funding through the Water Quality Initiative.

Iowa has four urban conservationists that work with communities, businesses, developers and homeowners on practices that can be used in urban areas to reduce runoff.

This is the third time that urban conservation projects have been funded through the Water Quality Initiative and there are currently 22 active or completed urban demonstration projects across the state . The state awarded these initial 22 projects over $1.63 million in funding and partners and landowners participating in the projects are providing over $5 million to support these urban conservation efforts.

A short summary of each of the new projects follows here.

Parkway Watershed in Prairie Trail – City of Ankeny
Grant award
: $70,030
Total project: $140,062
Description: This project brings together local partners to build on stormwater management efforts within in the Prairie Trail area in Ankeny and will serve as a model for future installations of similar practices in community. Practices that will be installed as part of this project include a stormwater wetland, sediment forebay and native seeding in the Saylor Creek Watershed, which will be coupled with and education and outreach component to showcase the benefits of installation.

Implementing and Educating: Stormwater Management for Education Institutions in Black Hawk County (Cities of Waterloo and Cedar Falls) – Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District
Grant award
: $105,500
Total project: $493,500
Description: This project will partner with three local educational institutions including Cedar Falls Community School District, Hawkeye Community College and the University of Northern Iowa to install stormwater management practices at respective campus locations and in alignment with the goals of providing educational opportunities focused on demonstrating project water quality benefits. Practices that will be installed as part of the project efforts will include multiple bioretention cells, native planting, and permeable pavement.  

Tama Building Permeable Alley – City of Burlington
Grant award
: $75,000
Total project: $191,650
Description: The City of Burlington will be installing a permeable alley for this project as part of downtown historic redevelopment project in a highly visible area. This project will serve as a catalyst for stormwater management and water quality project in the community and will provide a model for future efforts.

Infiltration Practices along 6th Street SW Corridor – City of Cedar Rapids
Grant award
: $100,000
Total project: $206,600
Description: The City of Cedar Rapids has brought together a team of local partners to build on current stormwater management efforts underway in the community with the goal of promoting benefits of water volume control along with improved water quality. The practices that will be installed as part of this project consists of two bioretention cell systems which will treat and reduce stormwater volumes along the 6th street corridor area.

Clay County Fair Centennial Plaza (City of Spencer) – Clay County Fair Association
Grant award
: $50,000
Total project: $100,000
Description: This project will support a strong local partnership group brought together to lead efforts in the development of the new Clay County Fairgrounds Centennial Plaza project by incorporation of urban conservation and educational components. This project will include installation a permeable pavers and bioretention cells along with education signage, outreach and demonstration components in a highly visible area to support local urban water quality improvement efforts.

Downtown Denison Urban Conservation Project – City of Denison
Grant award
: $73,560
Total project: $147,120
Description: The City of Denison will be installing four bioretention cells and one permeable paver system in the downtown area as part of this project. This retrofit demonstration project will offer multiple water quality benefits, along with strong local support and community involvement, in a highly visible area with the goal of using this project as an example for future community infrastructure projects.

Five Island Lake Campground Urban Watershed Project – City of Emmetsburg
Grant award
: $49,250
Total project: $98,500
Description: Five Island Lake has recently undergone extensive lake restoration activities and is transitioning to protection of their investment by also protecting the surrounding land. Project grant funds will be utilized to install multiple bioretention cells and native seeding as part of a former dredge silt site which has been repurposed into a new campground. These practices will blend into the new campground and showcase benefits of these practices to campers and park guests.

Fourmile Creek Watershed Project Sediment Basin Forebay and Stormwater Wetland – City of Des Moines and Fourmile Watershed Management Authority (WMA) 
Grant award
: $75,000
Total project: $150,000
Description: This project will coincide with the implementation goals of the Fourmile Creek Watershed Management Plan to improve water quality and includes two major components, a sediment basin forebay and a stormwater wetland. These practices will work together to reduce sediment and stormwater pollutants from entering Fourmile Creek Watershed and provide education and outreach opportunities to promote future projects in Fourmile Creek.

Walnut Creek WMA Project Implementation: Urbandale and Clive Nutrient Treatment/Flood Storage Wetlands (Cities of Urbandale and Clive) – The Nature Conservancy
Grant award
: $45,000
Total project: $90,000
Description: This project will implement several stormwater wetlands which have been identified in the Clive Greenbelt and Walnut Creek WMA Master Plans. The wetlands targeted for construction will be accomplished through restoration of stream oxbows and will provide multiple benefits including nutrient reduction, flood storage and riparian habitat. Educational opportunities will be incorporated into the project with the goal of providing expanded opportunities for future similar installations.

City of Readlyn Urban WQI: Initial Steps toward a Large Scale Effort– City of Readlyn
Grant award
: $70,000
Total project: $167,500
Description: This catalyst project will support a strong local partnership brought together with the common goal of building a stormwater quality management program within the City of Readlyn. This project will partner with the SRF Sponsored Projects Program to install a series of bioretention cells in an area of town which has been historically subject to large stormwater runoff volumes.             

City of Slater Permeable Paver Project – City of Slater
Grant award
: $100,000
Total project: $200,805
Description: This project will incorporate a permeable paver system and enhanced raingarden into the existing municipal city pool parking lot within Earl Grimm Park. This highly visible project will manage runoff and improve water quality in the headwaters of Fourmile Creek, which is directly adjacent to the planned project site.

Colby Water Quality Demonstration Park – City of Windsor Heights
Grant award
: $7,500
Total project: $17,000
Description: The goal of this project is to create a water quality themed demonstration park within the city owned Colby Park. The City of Windsor Heights will be installing three stormwater management practices as part of this project including a rain garden, soil quality restoration, and native landscaping, which will serve to provide education and demonstration for a variety of public events.

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.

In addition to these 12 new projects, 45 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices.  This includes 16 targeted watershed projects, 7 projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 22 urban water quality demonstration projects.  More than 150 organizations are participating in these projects.  These partners will provide $25.28 million dollars to go with the $16.09 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 farmers spent to build practices built without government assistance.