116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — 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.
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently announced 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. The partners estimated installing 60 water quality 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,” Naig said in a statement. “We look forward to working alongside the city, local partners, farmers and landowners to even more efficiently deploy conservation practices in the area.”
Cedar Rapids and the agriculture department are streamlining the project management process to make it easier for farmers and landowners to add conservation practices to their fields, according to the new release. City officials will work with local watershed coordinators to group multiple practices into batches of 10 to 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, according to the news release.
“Cedar Rapids is proud to further our work with IDALS and our six Soil and Water Conservation District partners to improve water quality and reduce risk to our source water,” Roy Hesemann, utilities director for the city, said. “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 department and the city 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.
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 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 currently are underway.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship serves the rural and urban residents of Iowa, which is led by Naig. Through its 14 diverse bureaus, the department ensures animal health, food safety and consumer protection. It also promotes conservation efforts to preserve the land and enhance water quality for the next generation.
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