Projects highlight urban clean water efforts

A bioretention cell is seen in Lohrville earlier this month. GRAPHIC-ADVOCATE PHOTO/ERIN SOMMERS

One afternoon last week, following a particularly heavy rain, a state official stopped by the Landus grain elevator in Rockwell City to look at bioretention cell in the process of being constructed.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey praised the project.

“These are why we initiated some of the things within the Water Quality Initiative, to show that partnership (between cities, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and private businesses),” Northey said. “It’s easier for us to tell farmers to do something when they see their cities invest in something like this, too.”

The cell – essentially a large hole, with a pond liner to prevent ground water from seeping in, filled with a mix of 70 percent sand, 30 percent topsoil –diverts storm water through first a layer of shredded wood mulch and then the sand and dirt mix to a rock layer. Native prairie grasses and other deep-rooted flowers will be planted this month. No water remained in the unfinished cell, which is located in a flat area south of the grain elevator where water historically would pond.

“The plants and mulch layer and microbials are going to do their number to filter the water,” Iowa Department of Natural Resources Urban Conservationist Jennifer Welch said. “They’re going to take a lot of the pollutants out. This is a great opportunity to send cleaner and less polluted water back to the stream.”

Read more in the July 20 edition.