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Black Hawk Creek Water Quality Project Expands

Black Hawk Creek Water Quality Project Expands

By Andi Anderson

Secretary Mike Naig has announced the expansion of the Water Quality Initiative (WQI) project in northeast Iowa, with a particular focus on the Black Hawk Creek area. This project was initially launched as the Black Hawk Creek Water and Soil Coalition in 2017, led by local farmers and supported by various stakeholders, including Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners, ag businesses, Farm Bureau, Iowa Ag Water Alliance, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Since 2020, the project has already achieved significant progress, with the seeding of nearly 89,000 acres of cover crops. The next phase of the project will continue to emphasize in-field conservation practices like cover crops, while also expanding its territory and introducing new edge-of-field conservation practices. These edge-of-field practices, such as saturated buffers, bioreactors, wetlands, and oxbow restorations, are designed to filter water and remove nutrients before they enter waterways.

An innovative "batch and build" model will be employed to install bioreactors and saturated buffers on multiple farms simultaneously, allowing for a faster acceleration of water quality improvements. The City of Cedar Rapids has signed an agreement for the installation of the first batch of 21 saturated buffers, with a second batch of 40 saturated buffers and 5 bioreactors in the design phase. This efficient and cost-effective approach has set records for conservation implementation in Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship is investing approximately $463,946 in the next phase of this project through the Water Quality Initiative. Partners involved in this initiative include the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), local conservation boards, Farm Bureaus, and other agricultural and environmental organizations.

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a science-based approach to improve water quality by addressing both point sources and nonpoint sources of nutrient pollution. It aims to collaborate with both private and public resources and organizations to reduce nutrient loss and enhance water quality in Iowa.


Photo Credit: istock-blackjack3d

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Secretary Naig Announces Expansion of Northeast Iowa Water Quality Project Secretary Naig Announces Expansion of Northeast Iowa Water Quality Project

Categories: Iowa, Government & Policy, Rural Lifestyle, Sustainable Agriculture

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