Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey recently announced that Matt Lechtenberg has been hired as the new water quality coordinator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. In this newly-created position, Lechtenberg will support continued implementation of the Iowa water quality initiative through both statewide efforts and targeted watershed demonstration projects.
"We are extremely pleased with the strong start to the Iowa water quality initiative and Matt's experience working with farmers, watershed projects and partner organizations will be a strong asset as we continue to move forward," Northey said. "Matt will be working closely with a wide variety of partners to help farmers implement water quality practices."
Lechtenberg has worked for the state ag department since 2006, most recently serving as an environmental specialist. In this position he coordinated the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, which supports construction of targeted nitrate removal wetlands, and the Integrated Farm and Livestock Management fund, which provides funding for research and demonstration projects for farmers to make informed decisions on implementing conservation practices.
State Legislature in 2013 appropriated more money to support soil conservation and water quality efforts in Iowa
The state ag department received an increase of $22.4 million this fiscal from the Iowa legislature to support conservation and water quality improvements in Iowa. The new funding included $12.4 million for the water quality initiative, including the hiring of the coordinator.
The department made $2.8 million available earlier this fall as cost-share funding to help farmers implement new nutrient reduction practices on their farm. The funds were available to help farmers try new practices targeted at protecting water quality and the state funds could not be more than 50% of total cost of the practice, so Iowa farmers will be providing at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.
The ag department has also received 17 applications for watershed demonstration projects that will focus on making water quality improvements in targeted watersheds identified by the Water Resources Coordinating Council. Applications are currently being reviewed and projects to receive assistance will be selected by the end of the year.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Additionally, the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to start a nutrient management research center at Iowa State University that will conduct ongoing research on practices farmers can use to reduce nutrient losses.
CLEANWATERIOWA.ORG is new website launched to help Iowans protect water quality
In other news, on October 28 Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds joined Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp to announce the launch of Clean Water Iowa, a new website that will serve as a resource to help Iowans protect and improve water quality.
"Iowans can take steps to help improve Iowa's water quality and this site serves as a one-stop-shop for conservation practices we can all use, whether it is on the farm, at a business or by a homeowner," said Branstad. The site has "Farm," "Residential & Urban," and "City & Industry" sections that provide information about science-based practices that can be implemented to improve water quality. The site includes descriptions of water quality practices that can be used, benefits of the practices, and links to additional information.
New site has information to help Iowa farmers meet goals outlined in Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy
"This site is one of the resources available to help Iowans achieve the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy," said Reynolds. "Working together and everyone doing their part will help us continue to make significant water quality improvements."
Success stories, information on upcoming events and education materials will also be available on the site. Iowans are invited to share their water quality success stories as well. "It is an exciting time and we are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in water quality practices from Iowans across the state," said Northey. "Farmers are engaged and we are in a scaling up phase as we get these science-based practices on more and more acres."
In addition to the website, Iowans can follow @CleanWaterIowa on Twitter or "like" the page on Facebook to receive updates and other information about the ongoing Iowa water quality initiative.