Author Archives: Megan Buckingham

Learn more about the Wapsi Watershed!

Published / by Megan Buckingham
  • Everyone--from landowners to communities--has a role in reducing runoff and preventing flooding!

Upper Wapsi Watershed Open Houses

Published / by Megan Buckingham

Residents and landowners in the Upper Wapsi Watershed are invited to a series of Public Meeting Open Houses.

Who might want to come? Anyone who is interested in…

  • Keeping communities and landowners in the Upper Wapsi protected from flooding.
  • Sustaining clean water.
  • Learning about urban conservation practices that can beautify communities and help better manage stormwater to reduce flood risk.
  • Exploring the many ways farmers & landowners are already practicing conservation on rural land–and considering opportunities to increase impactful conservation.
  • Sharing their own perspective on the watershed–what they value, what they’re concerned about, and what they want to do to make the Upper Wapsi more resilient.

The Open Houses are scheduled for:
November 16th – New Hampton Public Library – 1:00-2:30pm
November 20th – Bremer County ISU Extension Office in Tripoli – 1:00-2:30pm
November 30th – Riceville Public Library – 7:00-8:30pm
December 6th – Independence Public Library – 7:00-8:30pm

No RSVP required, but if you have questions or want to let us know you’re coming, please contact Megan at Northeast Iowa RC&D: megan@northeastiowarcd.org, 563-864-7112.

We hope to see you at one of the open houses!

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.

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.