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

 

Master River Stewards Program to be Offered Summer 2017 in Wapsipinicon River Watershed

Published / by Brad Crawford

Iowa Rivers Revival’s Master River Stewards Program is a comprehensive river course that will focus on riverine systems, including skills to paddle and navigate rivers, restore aquatic habitat, improve water quality, and understand policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.

The Master River Steward program will build on a network of river experts in various partner agencies and organizations. It will help adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa’s rivers, so that current and future generations can enjoy these resources.

Session Topics

  1. Watersheds & Ag Policies
  2. River Form & Function
  3. Navigating Iowa’s Waters/Wildlife & River Chemistry/Monitoring
  4. Stream/Riparian Zone Restoration & Impacts on Fish/Wildlife
  5. Agricultural Production & Farm Waste/Water Treatment Plant Visits
  6. Review & Potential Projects
  7. Post Training/Follow-Up, Project Sharing & Evaluation

Registration Deadline: May 2, 2017 (please inquire about availability after this date)
Contact: Sondra Cabell, Naturalist, fontanapark@iowatelecom.net, (319) 636-2617

$96.9 million Iowa Watershed Approach shifts into high gear

Published / by Lynn Anderson Davy

Cities, counties, and other groups are organizing regional watershed management authorities (WMAs) and hiring project coordinators as the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA), a $96.9 million program, enters its first official year and kicks off work to reduce flood risks and improve water quality across the state.

It was roughly a year ago that the governor’s office announced the grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Iowa’s proposal, The Iowa Watershed Approach for Urban and Rural Resilience, received the fourth largest award, coming in behind New Orleans, New York, and Virginia.

A key player behind the grant win was the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa, which helped develop and implement the IWA. In the past year, IFC representatives and other partners have fanned out across the state to meet with residents, elected officials, and conservation advocates to talk about details of the program, including cost-share assistance available for the construction of farm ponds, wetlands, and grassed waterways to manage runoff and reduce flooding.

More recently, as the WMAs start to take shape, IFC officials say they have been encouraged to see local residents stepping up to take control of watershed actions.

“They have really taken ownership and are adapting the program to meet their individual watershed needs,” says Larry Weber, IFC co-founder. “This is exactly the kind of local stewardship we envisioned.”

Weber says he’s looking forward to reaching other milestones as well, including the addition in 2017 of several new watershed coordinators and the creation of at least three new WMAs.

“We will also be identifying locations for the construction of projects such as ponds, wetlands, and more,” Weber says. “It’s all very exciting.”

Iowa has been hit hard by flooding in recent years. From 2011 to 2013, heavy rain prompted eight separate presidential disaster declarations in 73 counties, covering more than 70 percent of the state. A record-setting flood in 2008 triggered federal disaster relief, including funding used by the IFC for a pilot venture, the Iowa Watersheds Project, which ended in 2016.

“We know we need to move the needle, but therein lie some big questions: What projects and structures do we implement to reduce nutrient runoff, and how do we measure their success over time? We’re ready to get some answers to those questions.”

The nine watersheds participating in the program are the Middle Cedar, East and West Nishnabotna, Clear Creek, Dubuque/Bee Branch, English River, North Raccoon, Upper Iowa, and Upper Wapsipinicon. Progress in each watershed varies: Some are establishing WMAs; others are in the process of hiring coordinators, an important first step to commence watershed projects.

“We just hired our coordinator and he’s the one who will build relationships with land owners and execute the watershed plan,” says Todd Wiley, Benton County supervisor and chairman of the Middle Cedar WMA. According to Wiley, the federal grant’s five-year time frame means “there’s a bit of pressure to get things going. The clock is definitely ticking.”

“We really want to get the ball rolling,” says Michelle Franks, executive director of Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, Inc., who is working to build a WMA (sometimes referred to as a “coalition”) on the East and West Nishnabotna River. “A watershed plan is something that has been needed in southwest Iowa for some time. We feel like the time is now.”

For Franks, the process of getting the East and West Nishnabotna River WMA finalized has been a bit like “herding cats” because there are so many entities that must be included in the initial membership invite.

“We’ve got 48 towns, 12 counties, and 13 soil and water conservation districts in our watershed boundaries,” says Franks. “It’s been a real challenge to reach out to each of them and to explain the program and what we are trying to do.”

On the North Raccoon River, James Patrick, Storm Lake city manager, is also working to get a local WMA formed. About a dozen entities have joined the coalition so far, with more expected to sign on before the end of March. The focus of the North Raccoon River WMA will be on reducing floods and controlling nutrient runoff, which will improve water quality.

“We’re not going to make much headway unless we have a collaboration of efforts,” says Patrick.

Back on the Middle Cedar River, Wiley says his group is excited about welcoming its new coordinator.

“We have a lot of rural acreages in our watershed area, and many residents are concerned about water quality,” Wiley says. “We know we need to move the needle, but therein lie some big questions: What projects and structures do we implement to reduce nutrient runoff, and how do we measure their success over time? We’re ready to get some answers to those questions.”

The IWA is a collaboration of numerous agencies, universities, nonprofits, and municipalities. See the full list here.

For more information, visit www.iihr.uiowa.edu/iwa.

The Upper Wapsi Watershed Management Authority

Published / by Ross Evelsizer

The Upper Wapsi Watershed Management Authority is currently signing up entities that would like to join. Watershed Management Authorities form under a 28E agreement authorized by Iowa code. Entities eligible to join a WMA are County boards of supervisors, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and communities that lie on or within the watershed boundary. There is no membership cost to the member entities. For more information about WMA’s visit the Iowa DNR website regarding Watershed Management Authorities

Wapsi_riverfront2