3 Water Quality Demonstration Projects to Expand Work in Targeted Watersheds

For Immediate Release                                                                       Contact: Dustin Vande Hoef

Monday, April 23, 2018                                                         515/281-3375 or 515/326-1616 (cell)


DES MOINES –Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that three locally-led watershed-based demonstration projects will be expanding their work in targeted watersheds to accelerate implementation of practices that improve water quality.

“We are excited for the next phase of these three projects as they focus on accelerating adoption of practices and broadening their reach to even more farmers and landowners,” Naig said. “The 55 rural and urban demonstration projects in place across the state have played a critical role in reaching out and demonstrating new water quality focused practices and encouraging Iowans to try something new.”

The projects receiving extensions are:

Headwaters North Raccoon River Water Quality Initiative Project: The project is led by the Buena Vista and Pocahontas Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

North Raccoon Farm to River Partnership Water Quality Initiative, formerly the Elk Run Watershed Water Quality Initiative Project: The project is located in Carroll, Sac, and Calhoun Counties and led by Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance.

Leading a New Collaborative Approach to Improving Water Quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed: The project is located in Boone, Story, and Hamilton Counties and is led by Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation & Development.

These projects had a number of successes during the first three years, for example:

·       The Headwaters North Raccoon River project had a more than 400% increase in cover crop adoption from 2016-2017

·       The North Raccoon Farm to River Partnership project developed an effective edge-of-field strategy for implementation of bioreactors and saturated buffers

·       The Squaw Creek Watershed project partnered with the local Watershed Management Authority to support implementation and outreach efforts.

Looking forward to the next phase of implementation, these projects will focus on further developing partnerships and local leadership, targeted practice installation, development of actionable, locally-led watershed plans, and continuing to effectively leverage resources.

Thirteen new partners have joined the existing 39 partners currently involved in these projects. Partners include agriculture organizations, institutions of higher education, private industry, the local, state and federal government, and others, all working together to move conservation-based water quality efforts forward.

More details about each of the projects can be found at https://www.cleanwateriowa.org/farm-1/.

These projects will receive a total of $1.43 million in additional funding through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative over the next three years. In addition to the state funds, these three projects will access over $2.27 million in matching funds to support water quality improvement efforts as well as other in-kind contributions.

These funds will allow the projects to focus on scaling up implementation of conservation practices identified in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and continue to build on existing assessment and evaluation methods.  Also, an additional $475,000 of funds has been allocated for these projects which will be targeted towards implementation of edge-of-field nutrient reduction conservation practices such as wetlands, saturated buffers and bioreactors.

“Extending these projects will allow us to build on the strong foundation that has been created in these watersheds and continue learn more about the best ways to get water quality focused practices on the land. These projects are hitting their stride in terms of engaging farmers, getting practices on the ground and coordinating with partners and stakeholders.  We have always understood that it would take a long-term commitment to improvement in these watersheds and I’m excited to continue this important work,” Naig said.

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. Last fall, 2,600 farmers invested an estimated $8.7 million in funding to match $4.8 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 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 1,600 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.

A total of 55 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 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 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $34.5 million to go with the $22.6 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.

More information about the initiative can be found at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.

Will Myers