Watershed officials hoping proposals will stream in
By Mike Van Sickle
A message of opportunity was passed onto rural and urban residents of the Turkey River Watershed (TRW) on Thursday. This opportunity is expected to not only benefit local property owners and communities, but eventually all those located downstream.
Brad Crawford, Turkey River Watershed coordinator, was joined by Lora Friest, Northeast Iowa RC&D coordinator, in leading the informational meeting at Tap’t Out in West Union. Approximately 50 officials, producers, rural landowners, and community residents attended the meeting, hosted by Turkey River Watershed Management Authority board members.
Crawford noted that the Turkey River is the largest of four watersheds in Iowa whose watershed management authority is working closely on a five-year watershed pilot demonstration project with IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Flood Center.
The project includes conducting state-of-the-art hydrological modeling of the water flowing through the Turkey River Watershed (both above and below ground).
In addition, Friese reported that the 1.08 million-acre TRW has been selected by the Iowa Flood Center and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to be one of three model watersheds in Iowa that will develop a plan for reduction of floodwater and improved water quality.
More recently, NASA selected the Turkey River Watershed for a national rainfall modeling study. In addition, the watershed was selected as one of nine watersheds chosen as part of an Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.
“As you can see, it’s a broad partnership that looks at the entire watershed,” reported Crawford. “It is to everyone’s benefit to work together with a watershed this large.”
With local cooperation and support, it was reported Thursday that the Otter Creek sub-watershed is also competing for up to $1.7 million in funding for implementation of specific demonstration projects from 2014-2017.
Friese explained that while Otter Creek would be used to establish a baseline for the entire TRW project, later plans would be to continue moving from one subdivision to another.
At the same time, the local officials stressed the importance of producers and landowners outside the Otter Creek Watershed developing a conservation plan. They explained that the likelihood of additional funding becoming available from outside sources for the entire Turkey River Watershed would vastly improve with participation from those throughout the region.
“Everything is voluntary,” emphasized Friest, while reiterating that the watershed encompasses private landowners, producers, and communities within an eight-county area (see sidebar).
“We need producers and other landowners to tell us what they are willing to help with,” said Crawford. “The same things (practices/projects) that help us with flooding will help us with water quality, which is great for everyone.”
“Fayette County has a very strong history and has laid the foundation for such projects. But before we bust the doors wide open on this project, we need to hear from you (producers/landowners),” later added Aaron Anderson, Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) District conservationist for Fayette County.
“While I say that we need to hear your ideas, I want to assure you that at the same time we will be reaching out to you,” he continued. “We need to get (individual) plans in place so you can be the first in line when the dollars are made available to help you with your proposed project(s).
Examples of projects for the urban and/or rural areas include controlled drainage, wetlands, bioswales, ponds, rain gardens, saturated buffers, permeable pavers, storm water management, etc.
“West Union’s (Green Pilot Streetscape) project is a perfect example of ‘green,’ conservation practices, and other communities know it. There is so much that all of us can do to serve as a model to the rest of the nation,” said Friest.
Anyone seeking information on potentially developing a conservation plan in the Turkey River Watershed is encouraged to contact his or her local SWCD/NRCS office.
TRWMA Board of Directors
The Turkey River Watershed Management Authority was awarded funding in November 2012 from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to work with city, county, and regional staff; water resource professionals; producer groups; landowners; and residents to develop a coordinated and comprehensive plan over the next 18 months to address water quality and flooding in the local watershed.
Northeast Iowa RC&D was selected to assist in facilitating this planning process.
The board consists of directors from 23 cities, seven Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), and five counties in the Turkey River Watershed, which includes portions of Fayette, Chickasaw, Clayton, Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Delaware and Dubuque counties.
Local members include chairman Rod Marlatt, Fayette County representative; vice chairman Bill Bennett, Fayette County SWCD; treasurer/secretary Ron McCartney, Clayton County;
Jon Biederman, City of West Union and Fayette; Jim Matt, City of Clermont; Rhonda Dales, City of Elgin; Dana Franzen, City of Hawkeye; Kerri Langreck, City of St. Lucas; Paul Hoeger, City of Maynard; Eric Boehm, City of Wadena; Marlene Klemp, City of Waucoma;