Waterway in Iowa
BETTER WATER: The grant will support development of alternative drainage systems in the Des Moines River Basin to improve water quality.

Iowa Ag Department receives $1M grant

An EPA water quality grant will boost efforts underway in Iowa.

A $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Gulf of Mexico Program was awarded to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in early June to support the water quality efforts underway in the state.

“This grant is another great example of leveraging state funding for water quality and bringing in significant federal and private dollars to help get even more practices on the ground,” says Mike Naig, Iowa secretary of agriculture. “This EPA funding will help build saturated buffers, bioreactors, wetlands and other practices that have been shown to significantly reduce the nutrients leaving our land.”

The grant funds will be targeted to the Des Moines River Basin and will be used to support construction and demonstration of several conservation drainage practices. The project will also help support IDALS efforts to streamline program development and construction of these practices for landowners. Information learned through the grant project will inform future efforts to aid in delivery and implementation of these practices.

Specifically, the grant funds will be designated to support construction of 20 saturated buffers, 10 bioreactors, four targeted wetlands, three drainage water recycling systems and two drainage water management systems.

These practices are estimated to benefit 2,800 acres and will reduce nitrogen loading by 33% to 52% on average based on values in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s science assessment. The EPA announcement regarding this funding can be found here.

Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a science- and technology-based approach to achieving a 45% 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 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 65 demonstration projects are located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 44 urban water quality demonstration projects. 

More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $37.7 million to go with the $23.4 million in state funding for the projects.

More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This is 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 cleanwateriowa.org.

Source: Iowa Department of Agriculture

TAGS: EPA
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