Tour highlights Calhoun County urban water quality projects

State officials toured several urban water projects last week, including this site in Rockwell City, which will soon have bioretention cells. GRAPHIC-ADVOCATE PHOTO/ERIN SOMMERS

A state agency visited three Calhoun County sites Thursday to demonstrate what kind of projects the state is supporting, financially and programmatically, to improve Iowa’s water quality.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey even joined in with the Soil and Water Conservation District tour, which started at Twin Lakes, then traveled to Lohrville and Rockwell City. Northey used the tour to promote the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a long-term effort to cut the amount of nutrients that end up in state watersheds.

“We all get 3 feet of water a year,” he said, adding the water may come in large amounts or just an inch at a time. “We’ve got to manage that in a way that doesn’t cause problems for our neighbors.”

The idea behind the Nutrient Reduction Strategy was to get data that supports efforts such as cover crops, saturated buffer strips, wetlands and other conservation measures as a way to limit pollutants running off from fields into water. Des Moines Water Works earlier this year filed a lawsuit against drainage districts in three counties, including Calhoun, alleging drainage tiles are transporting pollutants from fields to the Raccoon River watershed and seeking regulation of those drainage measures. 

Read more in the May 6 edition.