Nine Urban Water Quality Demonstration Projects Selected to Receive Funds

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced nine Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Projects have been selected to receive $655,194 in funding.  Partners and landowners participating in the projects will provide $2.43 million to support urban conservation efforts.       

The communities participating in the projects are Ames, Calmar, Cedar Falls, Des Moines, Granger, Storm Lake, Webster City, West Des Moines and three sites in Calhoun County.     

“This is an exciting next step for the Iowa Water Quality Initiative as we work together with communities, businesses and homeowners in our towns and cities,” Northey said.  “Expanding the Water Quality Initiative to include these projects builds on the important partnership of urban and rural areas working together to protect and improve water quality.”     

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 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 watersPractices included in the projects are bioretention cells, native landscaping, permeable pavement, soil quality restoration, bioswales, wetlands and other practices.     

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received 36 pre-applications for this funding after it was announced last fall and ten projects were invited to submit full proposals. 

Northey created the Urban Conservation program in 2008 and has four urban conservationists that work to educate communities, businesses, developers and homeowners about practices that can be used in urban areas to reduce runoff.  This is the first time that urban conservation projects have been funded through the Water Quality Initiative.     

A short summary of each of the projects follows here:
South Skunk River Basin Watershed Project
- Ames
Grant award: $100,000
Total project: $1,191,060
Description: This project involves the unique application of green infrastructure best management practices to improve water quality in the Ames community. Project organizers plan to use native turf and landscape, bioretention cells, and permeable pavement systems to restore and retain lost soil due to erosion.  

Demonstration Urban Conservation Projects at Northeast Iowa Community College - Winneshiek Soil & Water Conservation District (Calmar)
Grant award: $61,410
Total project: $127,820
Description: This cooperative initiative combines both the urban and agricultural aspects of the nutrient reduction strategy. To alleviate the runoff from the Dairy Center and several parking lots, project organizers plan to construct an infiltration trench, a rain garden, a permeable pavement parking lot, and gutters to direct water to these installations.  

Permeable Alley Project 2015 - Cedar Falls
Grant award: $41,050
Total project: $82,100
Description: This project will install a permeable pavement system to help alleviate the effects of excess stormwater runoff by allowing water to infiltrate the surface of the pavement. This allows instances of heavy storm drainage to have less of an impact on Dry Run Creek.  

Water Quality Initiative for Waveland Park Neighborhood - Des Moines/Waveland Neighborhood Association
Grant award: $50,000
Total project: $115,179
Description: Collaborative effort between the city and neighborhood to construct a rain garden and bioswales to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff on the local watershed.  

Oxley Creek Watershed Improvements - Granger
Grant award: $100,000
Total project: $593,000
Description: This coordinated effort will expand a State Revolving Fund (SRF) sponsored project that is addressing high priority features from the Oxley Creek Watershed Management Plan including a bioswale and a stormwater wetland. This comprehensive plan with green infrastructure makes sustainable growth a priority for the community. 

Calhoun County Urban Project - Calhoun Soil and Water Conservation District (Lake City, Rockwell City and Twin Lakes)
Grant award: $89,734
Total project: $475,469
Description: This initiative will utilize bioretention cells, permeable pavers, native landscaping, and two rain gardens to demonstrate various methods to improving urban water quality in communities within Calhoun County. 

Restoring Storm Lake Storm Water - Storm Lake
Grant award: $80,000
Total project: $160,000
Description: Grant funds will be utilized to expand implementation of urban conservation in Storm Lake by implementing permeable paver parking lot in conjunction with bioswales, rain gardens, and tree wells. The project will also incorporate work in the agricultural landscape by installing 4 denitrifying bioreactors. 

Riverside Stormwater Wetlands - Webster City
Grant award: $100,000
Total project: $273,091
Description: Webster City plans to divert their storm water runoff from a 70 acre urban area to a wetland instead of directly into the Boone River. The wetland will help by slowing and filtering stormwater generated from the urban streets and parking areas. 

West Des Moines School Pond Improvements - West Des Moines
Grant award: $33,000
Total project: $70,535
Description: Project organizers will plant 11 acres of native Iowa prairie grasses and restore 5.5 acres of compacted soils. The city hopes these practices will transform the area into a high performing urban fishery for the surrounding community. 

These new projects join 16 Water Quality Initiative demonstration projects in targeted watersheds that are focused on helping farmers implement and demonstrate water quality practices.  The state has provided $7.4 million in funding to support these projects and has leveraged an additional $11.7 million in additional funding from partners and landowners.  More than 95 organizations are participating in these projects.