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 – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that pre-applications are now being accepted for conservation projects located in urban areas that are focused on improving water quality.

Proposed projects should be based on local collaborative efforts that focus on implementing conservation measures that reduce a property's contribution to water quality degradation, runoff and flooding. Examples of eligible urban practices include wetlands, bioretention cells, native landscaping and other approved nutrient reduction practice technologies.

“Urban water quality projects are a key tool to showcase things that can be done in towns and cities to help slow stormwater runoff and protect water quality. I encourage interested communities, watershed groups and other organizations to take this opportunity to learn about the cost-share funding that is available and consider applying,” Naig said.

Cities, counties, county conservation boards, Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCDs), 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, proposed projects should be based on established partnerships and include strong outreach/education components. Successful projects will serve as local and regional hubs for demonstrating practices and providing information on available technologies to homeowners, municipalities, businesses, and local communities.

The pre-applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018.  Pre-applications selected to submit a full application will be notified by Jan. 11, 2019 and the full applications will be due on Feb. 8, 2019.  Projects selected to receive funding will be announced in early March.

Project pre-application guidance can be found here or can be requested by contacting the Department’s Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality at 515-281-5851.

This is the fifth year that Urban Conservation Water Quality Initiative Demonstration Project funding has been offered through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Currently, 43 projects have been awarded funding, nine in 2015, 12 in 2016, 12 in 2017 and ten in 2018. In total, the state has awarded more than $3.24 million in funding and partners and landowners participating in the projects will provide more than $9.4 million to support urban conservation efforts.

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.

The initiative is seeing some exciting results. This fall, 2,800 farmers invested an estimated $9 million in funding to match $5 million in state cost share funds to adopt cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include more than 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and nearly 1,800 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.

A total of 64 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $42.2 million to go with the $31.5 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year.

Will Myers