Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, City of Cedar Rapids Partner to Expand Conservation Drainage Practices
State, county and city officials are working together to add an estimated 60 water quality practices in the Middle Cedar watershed
DES MOINES, Iowa (February 24, 2022) – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig announced today that the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is partnering with the City of Cedar Rapids and the Benton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Grundy, Linn and Tama Soil and Water Conservation Districts to launch the Cedar River Clean Water Partnership. The goal of the project is to partner with farmers to install edge-of-field practices adjacent to farm fields. These practices, such as bioreactors and saturated buffers, will help protect the Cedar River. Project partners anticipate installing an estimated 60 practices in the first year of the project.
“This project is a great extension of the partnership we've had with the City of Cedar Rapids for seven years to grow and expand conservation practices in the Middle Cedar watershed,” said Secretary Naig. “We look forward to working alongside the City, local partners, and farmers and landowners to even more efficiently deploy conservation practices in the area.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the City of Cedar Rapids are streamlining the project management process to make it easier for farmers and landowners to add conservation practices to their fields. The City of Cedar Rapids will work with local watershed coordinators to group multiple practices into batches of 10-20 projects. Grouping projects together will provide efficiencies for contractors and engineers, enabling conservation practice installations on multiple farms instead of building projects one at a time for individual landowners as has traditionally been done in the past.
“Cedar Rapids is proud to further our work with IDALS and our six Soil & Water Conservation District partners to improve water quality and reduce risk to our source water,” said Roy Hesemann, Utilities Director for the City of Cedar Rapids. “We have seen the data. These projects have a proven record of reducing nitrates in the Cedar River. We are excited for another opportunity to scale up our water protection efforts.”
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the City of Cedar Rapids are covering the construction costs of the project. The six Soil and Water Conservation Districts are providing ongoing technical support and design and installation oversight. The installed saturated buffers and bioreactors will reduce nitrogen losses by at least 40 percent with some sites realizing even greater efficiencies.
The City of Cedar Rapids has been working alongside the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to improve soil health and water quality in Iowa and downstream since the Middle Cedar Partnership Project kicked off in 2015. The successful conservation partnership has grown to include the Cedar River Source Water Regional Conservation Partnership Project and the Midwest Ag Water Quality Regional Conservation Partnership Project, which are currently underway.
A map of the Cedar River Clean Water Partnership water quality project is available at cleanwateriowa.org.