Iowa gets big grant to help tackle water quality challenges

Iowa gets big grant to help tackle water quality challenges

Iowa's efforts to handle water quality and flooding get $97 million boost from new federal funding.

On January 22 Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and key federal and state partners announced that the State of Iowa was awarded nearly $97 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant is part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition that will help accelerate flood reduction and water quality efforts in key watersheds over the next five years. Through this new federal funding, the State of Iowa will continue collaborative efforts in both urban and rural areas to reduce flooding and install voluntary new water quality practices.

NEW FUNDING: Iowa’s effort to reduce flooding and water quality problems is getting help from a $97 million federal grant. The cities of Dubuque, Coralville and Storm Lake will get about $40 million of the $97 million; most of the remainder will be used to target flooding and water quality improvements in 9 watersheds across the state.

This grant builds on Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy
“I’m proud Iowa is being recognized for our leadership in advancing innovative and data-driven flood reduction and water quality efforts,” Branstad said, at a press conference at the state capitol. “This grant adds significant federal resources to build on the efforts of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and complements our recent proposal to extend the SAVE fund to support long-term funding for education infrastructure and water quality efforts.”

Lt. Gov. Reynolds added, “This grant underscores Iowa’s continued commitment to urban and rural collaboration to reduce flooding and improve water quality. The project will build upon a solid foundation from the State of Iowa’s Flood Mitigation Program and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. We can advance flood and nutrient reduction efforts in a way that strengthens urban and rural resiliency within targeted watersheds in a cost-effective manner.”

Iowa has innovative projects, partnering to improve water quality
“This is another example of Iowa leading the way with innovative projects that bring together state, federal and local partners to achieve important water quality improvements,” Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey said.

“Through the competition process the State of Iowa made significant commitments to the long-term resilience of communities focused on reducing flooding and increasing water quality,” added HUD regional administrator Jennifer Tidwell. 

One key part of the grant will be to advance an infrastructure project within the Bee Branch Watershed in the city of Dubuque and the Bee Branch Healthy Homes Resiliency Program to repair flood-damaged homes and make them more resilient to floods. Applauding the local-state-federal partnership, Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol said, “Dubuque is very grateful to receive such significant support for our resiliency and flood mitigation efforts. We are proud to partner with the State of Iowa; we appreciate HUD’s acknowledgment of our comprehensive, collaborative approach to risk management and water quality. This competition is a great example of the federal government supporting efforts of local and state governments to address flooding issues.”

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This grant supports watershed management authorities
The Iowa project—the Iowa Watersheds Approach (IWA)—identified flood reduction and water quality efforts in nine targeted watersheds, including: Bee Branch Creek; Clear Creek; East Nishnabotna; English River; North Raccoon River; Middle Cedar River; Upper Iowa; Upper Wapsipinicon River; and West Nishnabotna River.

The City of Dubuque is a key partner in the IWA and will implement an urban watershed initiative in an area impacted by devastating floods. Dubuque’s IWA program includes infrastructure projects and the Bee Branch Healthy Homes Resiliency Program to repair flood damaged homes and make them more resilient to floods. The cities of Coralville and Storm Lake will also get significant funding for water infrastructure projects.

Iowa’s grant of nearly $97 million is 4th largest of any applicant
Iowa leaders began pursuing this grant in the fall of 2014 when they saw the opportunity to advance two long-term public policy priorities: reducing flood risks and advancing water quality. A great team approach, including leadership from the City of Dubuque, helped build a winning coalition and comprehensive approach. Iowa’s successful grant application joins 12 other winning grant applications from across the nation. Iowa’s grant of $96.9 million is the fourth largest grant of any applicant.  Iowa’s award accounts for nearly 10% of the total grant dollars awarded nationally in the competition, further demonstrating that Iowa’s commitment to advancing flood reduction and water quality laid the foundation for a successful application.

State leaders summarized the goals of the project as follows in their grant submission support letter: “The goals of our project, the Iowa Watershed Approach, are to reduce flood risk and improve water quality in Iowa by implementing a suite of projects upstream that retain water and increase infiltration.”

The pursuit of this grant was an active partnership among several state agencies, the Regents universities, counties, municipalities, ag stakeholders, and non-profits.  A variety of stakeholders and communities across Iowa supported the State of Iowa’s grant application. More information is in the Iowa Grant Award Summary Fact Sheet.

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