Project partners launch water quality infrastructure project in central Iowa – KIWARadio.com
IARN – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig joined federal and state government agencies, Polk County officials, conservation contractors and local landowners to launch the infrastructure project of central Iowa water quality. The Unique Water Quality Project creates a new framework to streamline and scale up the adoption of saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors in Polk and Dallas counties by streamlining finance and construction processes for landowners.
At Kurt Lehman’s farm near Alleman, Naig thanked the project partners who helped design, build, finance and recruit landowners for the project. He also thanked the participating landowners for being leaders in conservation.
“This project creates a model that allows us to accelerate the rate at which we add more soil health and water quality practices. These practices directly benefit residents of Polk and Dallas counties and our downstream neighbors, ”Secretary Naig said. “Other communities are watching what is happening here. We know that success here will lead to successful projects in other priority watersheds in the state. “
Johnathon Swanson, Watershed Management Authority coordinator at Polk County Public Works, calls the rationalization of finance and construction a “tax agent” model that allows contractors to access sites through an easement. temporary construction. “The easement allows contractors to access private land and ensure that the expectations of landowners and funding agencies are met,” he said. “Paying the easement to the landowner encouraged participation and helped generate interest in the project.
Construction contractors kicked off Phase 1 of the project last week, which is expected to last around a year. Teams are installing 40 saturated buffers and 11 bioreactors along the edges of agricultural fields to help protect water quality and support recreational opportunities in the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers. Phase 2 of the project is expected to include 150 more sites and other counties and partners in the future.
Saturated buffers have underground side pipes that divert water drained by tiles through a vegetated buffer. The vegetative buffer zone removes sediment, phosphorus and pesticide runoff, while creating wildlife habitat. Bioreactors are dug pits filled with wood chips that filter the drainage water from the tiles. As the water from the tile pipe passes through the wood chips, the denitrifying bacteria convert the nitrates in the tile water to nitrogen gas.
Swanson said the sites were selected using mapping tools that take into account topography, bank heights and soil types to identify project sites that will have the greatest impact on quality. some water.
From there, the organizers reached out to farmers and landowners living along Fourmile, Mud, Camp, Spring and Walnut streams to encourage them to get involved.
“Identifying multiple sites in a county made it easier and more attractive for contractors to bid on the project,” Swanson said, “which reduced the overall costs of the project.
The Central Iowa Water Quality Infrastructure Project was formed through close collaboration between:
Polk Soil and Water Conservation District
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service
Coalition for Agricultural Drainage Management
For more information on the project, visit cleanwateriowa.org/centraliowaproject.
Story courtesy of Iowa Food Radio Network
Photo courtesy of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship