Rain Gardens: Beautiful and Beneficial

Published / by Megan Buckingham

Rain gardens utilize good soil and deep-rooted plants to infiltrate runoff from a smaller area, such as a roof, driveway, or a section of street or parking lot. Often rain gardens are beautifully landscaped with brightly colored flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. Properly constructed rain gardens are in the natural path of runoff and are slightly depressed, but designed to infiltrate ponded water in under 24 hours. Check out Rainscaping Iowa’s rain garden resources to learn more!

Rain gardens are another urban stormwater best management practice (BMP) you may want to consider using at home, at your business, or in your community! To learn more about urban stormwater BMPs check out Rainscaping Iowa, a project of the Iowa Storm Water Education Partnership.

Bioswales: Not your grandmother’s storm sewer

Published / by Megan Buckingham

A bioswale can be used in place of a traditional storm sewer. Planted with deep-rooted native grasses, flowers, and shrubs, bioswales beautify while helping water filter and infiltrate. Bioswales work best when they are placed in existing drainage areas. By design, bioswales infiltrate frequent smaller rain events and convey heavy rains in a non-erosive manner. They do not hold water on the surface for extended periods of time. In fact, bioswales can be a good solution for areas that have problems with ponding and standing water. Learn more about bioswales at RainscapingIowa.org!

Bioswales are just one of many green stormwater management practices that communities can implement. Check this page for more examples, or visit the Iowa Storm Water Education Partnership’s website to learn more!

Survey Sent to Landowners in Upper Wapsi Watershed

Published / by Megan Buckingham

If you own property in the Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed, you may find a survey in your mailbox this summer. The survey is part of the planning process the Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed Management Authority (WMA) has undertaken in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding and improve water quality in the watershed.

The Upper Wapsipinicon WMA, a formal partnership between 15 communities, 9 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and 8 county Boards of Supervisors, is working with Northeast Iowa RC&D to create a 20-year plan for the watershed. The first step in the planning process is learning about the watershed and the people who live in it. To that end, Northeast Iowa RC&D has begun evaluating land use, urban runoff, and other characteristics of the watershed. The survey, sent to 1,300 households, is one way landowners can give input to the plan.

“Input from people who live and own land in the watershed is critical to creating an effective plan,” said Megan Buckingham, Watershed Outreach Coordinator with Northeast Iowa RC&D. “Responses to the survey will help us understand landowners’ experiences with water and flooding. And since participation in watershed projects is voluntary, it will gauge urban and rural landowners’ interest in participating in storm water management or targeted conservation practices.”

To learn more about the Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed, scroll around this website or contact Megan at Northeast Iowa RC&D at 563-864-7112.

Water Sampling in the Upper Wapsi

Published / by Megan Buckingham

Elaine Hughes prepares to draw samples from Buffalo Creek near Quasqueton.

A couple of times a month, volunteers collect water samples from streams, creeks and the Wapsipinicon River. Samples are sent to Coe College, where they are tested for nitrates, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfate and total suspended solids.

Monitoring is a critical component of improving water quality. As the Upper Wapsi WMA sets improvement goals, the data collected can help them identify the most critical problems in the watershed and prioritize effective solutions.

Position Opening: Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority Project Coordinator

Published / by Brad Crawford

Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority

Announcement Date: 4/28/2017
Application Closing Date: 05/12/2017
Anticipated Date of Hire: 06/01/2017

Buchanan Soil and Water Conservation District, in cooperation with the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority (WMA), seeks a self-motivated, experienced Watershed Project Coordinator to implement the Iowa Watershed Approach project for the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed. The project will address areas of environmental concern that may include but are not limited to flood reduction, nutrient loading, sedimentation, and other hydrologic, soil conservation and water quality issues for the Upper Wapsipinicon River WMA. The ideal candidate will have experience in watershed planning and/or project management, an ability to interpret scientific concepts clearly and proficiently, and a demonstrated capacity to work with diverse stakeholder groups, including local public officials, NGOs, landowners, farmers, businesses, and the general public.

Position Summary:

The project coordinator will serve as the primary point of contact for the Iowa Watershed Approach program in the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed. The multi-faceted nature of this program will require that the successful candidate have a diverse skill set and the ability to coordinate multiple activities with overlapping deadlines. The successful candidate should be well-versed in watershed planning and management concepts, have the technical capacity to interpret water resource data and information, and strong communication skills.

The employee will manage and coordinate, as needed, the implementation of flood resiliency conservation projects and associated conservation planning, information and education outreach programs, and other related activities essential to the IWA, the WMA and its membership. The coordinator will also work with Northeast Iowa RC&D as they develop a WMA disaster resiliency watershed plan for the watershed. The project coordinator will be closely involved with overseeing a variety of activities. Specific tasks may include:

  • Stakeholder engagement: : The project coordinator will in many respects be the face of the IWA program in the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed. In order for the program to be successful, there must be support from all levels of watershed stakeholders including city and county government, landowners, residents and businesses, agricultural producers, concerned citizens, non-governmental organizations, and the many partners that are involved with the IWA program statewide and locally. To that end, the project coordinator will research, plan, and implement an information and education outreach program to raise awareness about the IWA program, encourage participation in the planning process and the implementation of practices.
  • Implementation of the watershed management plan: The project coordinator will perform professional and technical duties to advance the goals of the watershed management plan. These duties will include implementing the information and education outreach plan and assisting with the implementation of best management practices designed to increase flood resilience in the project area. The coordinator will work one-on-one with producers and other decision makers to facilitate adoption and implementation of the practices identified in the watershed management plan. The coordinator will also help landowners navigate the process of signing up for cost-share assistance through the IWA program.
  • Project evaluation: The coordinator will evaluate project activities on an ongoing basis, working with local partners and stakeholders to prioritize current and future project activities. Use current technology and tools, such as GIS, to identify resource needs and identify innovative solutions. Utilize monitoring and measurement techniques to evaluate progress toward meeting project goals and implementation of solutions. Assist the WMA in identifying other potential flood reduction and water quality programs and assisting in applying for funds through those programs.
  • Overall project coordination: The IWA program will have multiple activities on-going throughout the five-year program. The coordinator will oversee efforts to collaborate with appropriate agencies, groups, and individuals that can affect the success of the project. The coordinator will plan and lead group meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with project sponsors, WMA members, local cooperators, and various WMA stakeholders. The project coordinator will help with organizing and publicizing meetings, will maintain a clear understanding of project timelines and budgets, and will be the point of contact for IWA program partners, as well as contractors and consultants hired to work on different aspects of the program.
  • Project Reporting and Administration: The coordinator will provide administrative support and manage the project to maintain quality control and maximize involvement of local advisors, WMA members and staff of program partners. Work with project advisory groups and WMA members to complete annual plans of operations and budgets for the project. Work with the project administrator on completing and submitting all required financial and progress reporting documents in accordance with IEDA and HUD contract deadlines.

Applicant Qualifications:

The ideal candidate will be a highly motivated professional with strong communication skills and an ability to take the initiative on watershed outreach, project coordination, and implementation of conservation projects. The Coordinator will need to be flexible and willing to take on new tasks and responsibilities as program opportunities evolve. The position requires a conscientious individual who will provide follow-through on all areas of responsibility.

The Coordinator must have knowledge of ecosystem and watershed concepts, watershed planning, water resource issues, flood mitigation programs and strategies, and watershed improvement practices. Some experience with habitat restoration or agricultural conservation practices, volunteer management, community engagement, environmental education, and/or outreach is also required. The Coordinator must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with a broad range of individuals. The position requires a college degree in Environmental Science, or a related discipline, and relevant job experience in the watershed management field. A working knowledge of basic state and federal agricultural conservation programs and successful grant writing experience is preferred.

Position Information:

This is a full-time position that will be in effect over the remaining 4.5 years of the Iowa Watershed Approach program. The successful applicant will be housed in the Buchanan SWCD office and will adhere to the employment policies and benefit system of the SWCD. Primary work hours will be during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm), however, early morning, evening and weekend work, with occasional overnight trips, will be regularly required throughout the year to meet with local leaders and boards of political subdivisions, watershed committees, conservation districts, interested stakeholders, various state and federal agencies, and to attend trainings. The successful applicant must have a valid driver’s license and vehicle available for use.

Compensation and Benefits:

  • Competitive salary commensurate with education, experience, and skills.
  • Supportive communities and partner organizations
  • Benefit package including mileage reimbursement, sick/vacation time, paid holidays, and IPERS.

Application Process:

  • To apply, please submit each of the following via email to Paul Berland, Project Administrator, Northeast Iowa RC&D
    • cover letter
    • resume
    • writing sample
    • three professional references
  • The writing sample should be from a newsletter, press release or other outreach piece, or a technical report on relevant environmental issues. If not available, another piece may be submitted that conveys the applicant’s ability to clearly interpret the natural world to the general public.

Buchanan SWCD does not discriminate against any qualified employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, familial status, physical or mental disability. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, or familial status.

WMA Project Coordinator Position – Upper Wapsi River WMA (PDF)

In the News: Cut of $96 million to go to Wapsie flood plans

Published / by Jack Swanson

Will be looking at ways to slow water flow

By Jack Swanson, Managing Editor of the Oelwein Daily Register

POSTVILLE – The Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed Management Authority recently kicked off a process to develop a 20-year plan for increasing resiliency to flooding along the Wapsipinicon River and its tributaries. The planning process, led by Northeast Iowa RC&D, is part of a $96.9 million state-wide Iowa Watershed Approach project, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to RC&D, record setting floods in recent years prompted new approaches to
flood risk reduction. The Iowa Watershed Approach gives communities an opportunity to evaluate past and future flood impacts and invest in strategic solutions at the watershed
level.

“Developing a watershed resiliency plan is a public process—that’s why it’s so valuable,”
said Ross Evelsizer of Northeast Iowa RC&D. “As we plan, we’ll identify which flood reduction practices will give us the best bang for our buck. We’ll connect farmers and landowners with cost-share assistance for implementing conservation measures on their land. We’ll work with communities to consider how they can incorporate flood-reduction practices into regular infrastructure maintenance, new projects and upgrades.”

The planning period runs through July 2018. Public meetings will be held throughout the watershed to give residents a chance to learn more and give input.

“The Upper Wapsi WMA will hold public meetings throughout the watershed, likely starting this summer. We will publicize those as they are scheduled,” said Project Coordinator Megan Buckingham. She pointed out that a major part of the planning process will be working with cities to decide which flood reduction projects they want to prioritize, and setting up strategies to implement and fund those activities.

“Ponds, wetlands, rain gardens, bioswales, permeable pavers, a green roof, native plantings, tree and shrub plantings, and rain barrels are some of the types of projects cities could implement to increase their resiliency in the face of flooding,” Buckingham pointed out.

Don Shonka is the chair of the Upper Wapsipinicon WMA. “The watershed is the best approach we have for reducing flooding and improving water quality, because it involves so many people to make it work,” said Shonka. “It takes in all the options for conservation and resiliency, and it bands people together to solve the problem.”

The Upper Wapsipinicon WMA formed in 2015, and is a partnership of more than 30 cities, counties and conservation districts who have committed to working together in their shared watershed to reduce the risk of flooding and increase water quality. To learn more about the Upper Wapsipinicon WMA, or about the resiliency planning process, visit their web site at www.upperwapsi.org.

The Daily Erosion Project

Published / by Brad Crawford

The Daily Erosion Project (DEP) estimates precipitation, runoff, sheet and rill erosion, and hillslope delivery in near real time, on over 2000 watersheds in the Midwest (Figure 1). It does this by running the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model with a combination of remotely-sensed precipitation weather stations, remotely-sensed crop and residue cover, remotely-sensed topography, and soils databases.

It is an update and expansion to the Iowa Daily Erosion Project (Cruse et al., 2006) that is designed to further investigate large scale erosion dynamics while maintaining hillslope level input resolution. The DEP has a climate database extending from 2007  to the present day, enabling investigation of single event and single year runoff and soil erosion dynamics over a large time range and spatial extent.

Building a Stormwater Quality Management Program in Readlyn

Published / by Brad Crawford

The City of Readlyn recently received $70,000 from the Iowa Water Quality Initiative Urban Conservation Project to be used to support a local partnership brought together with the common goal of building a stormwater quality management program within the City of Readlyn. This project will partner with the SRF Sponsored Projects Program to install a series of bioretention cells in an area of town which has been historically subject to large stormwater runoff volumes.

Projects funded by the Iowa WQI Urban Conservation Project will focus on conservation measures that capture and allow stormwater to be absorbed into the ground and reduce a property’s contribution to water quality degradation, stream flows and flooding.  They also include strong partnerships and outreach/education components to disseminate information to promote increased awareness and adoption of available practices and technologies for achieving reductions in nutrient loads to surface waters.

Full Announcementhttp://www.cleanwateriowa.org/article.aspx?id=223&Branstad%2c+Reynolds%2c+Northey+Announce+12+Urban+Water+Quality+Demonstration+Projects+Selected+to+Receive+Funding

Learn More About Bioretention Cells in Iowa: http://www.rainscapingiowa.org/documents/filelibrary/bioretention_cells/BioretentionCell2014_4AAE3A8292807.pdf