Landowners attending a series of water-quality information meetings
GATHERING INPUT: Landowners and others attended a series of water-quality information meetings this spring in the Middle Cedar Watershed in eastern Iowa.

Working to improve water quality

Iowa Learning Farms: Partnerships form to reduce flooding and improve water quality in Middle Cedar Watershed.

By Jamie Benning

Landowners and residents in the Middle Cedar Watershed can learn about conservation practices that can improve their farming operations and communities, while minimizing flood impacts and enhancing water quality.

Local partnerships are also forming to make the Middle Cedar Watershed project successful. Three landowner meetings held in early March introduced the Iowa Watershed Approach project and discussed technical and financial assistance available for conservation practices.

The first meeting sponsored by Heartland Co-op was in Traer in northern Tama County on March 7. On March 8 in conjunction with the Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed project, the Buchanan County Pheasants Forever Chapter sponsored a landowner meeting in Brandon. The final landowner meeting was March 12 in Vinton, sponsored by the Benton County Cattlemen’s Association.

Learning about practices
Over 100 landowners and watershed stakeholders attended one of the three meetings, and many are exploring practices they can put to work on their farms or in their communities.

“Landowners are showing interest in a variety of conservation practices,” says Adam Rodenberg, Middle Cedar Watershed project coordinator. “In parts of the watershed with steeper slopes, there is more interest in terraces and ponds. While in more heavily row-cropped areas of the watershed, there’s more interest in waterways and small detention basins.”

Over 30 individual projects are in the environmental review and design process, with several more in the early decision-making stages.

Rodenberg is also exploring additional partnerships with small communities to establish urban conservation projects and is working with other wildlife and conservation organizations to implement practices that not only reduce flooding and improve water quality, but also provide wildlife habitat.

In addition, The Nature Conservancy is working in the Middle Cedar Watershed to restore wetlands and oxbows. Oxbows are stream segments that have been cut off from the main stream channel. If restored, they can benefit flood reduction, water quality and habitat.

Watershed approach brings results
The Middle Cedar Watershed is one of nine watersheds participating in the Iowa Watershed Approach, a project that is a result of many partners coming together to address flooding and water quality across Iowa.

Partners include the Iowa Economic Development Authority; Homeland Security and Emergency Management; University of Iowa; Iowa State University; University of Northern Iowa; Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship; cities of Coralville, Dubuque and Storm Lake; and Benton, Buena Vista, Fremont, Iowa, Johnson, Mills, Winneshiek and Howard counties.

For more information about upcoming events or to participate in future landowner and community events, visit middlecedarwma.com. Or contact Adam Rodenberg at 319-826-4867 or [email protected].

Benning is the water quality program manager for ISU Extension.

TAGS: Water
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