How Watershed Projects Work
Local soil and water conservation districts (there’s one in every county, with two in Pottawattamie) administer watershed projects with assistance from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), Division of Soil Conservation.
Conservation districts apply for funds from IDALS for both technical and financial purposes. Projects may also get funds from the Environmental Protection Agency’s 319 water quality program. These funds come through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR may offer other funds, and districts may also partner with other agencies or organizations.
Conservation districts set priorities with local citizen input, then rely on IDALS secretaries, conservation technicians and environmental specialists to carry out the projects. Or, in some cases, districts may employ a temporary project coordinator.
The projects usually run for 5 to 10 years. Projects are also assisted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a federal conservation agency that works very closely with IDALS and conservation districts in natural resource care.
The projects are diverse in some objectives, but all share a common goal of protecting productive land and improving water quality in Iowa’s streams and lakes.