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Plymouth County’s Deep Creek water project among $1.7 million in grants

By Staff | Jun 6, 2014

Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture, observes the cover crops planted at his own farm near Spirit Lake as a “practice what you preach” example of following Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

LE MARS – The Deep Creek Water Quality Initiative Project in Plymouth County is one of five new watershed projects receiving a total of $1.7 million for the next three years as part of the state’s on going water quality improvement plan announced on May 27 by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

The projects, in addition to state funding, will receive an additional $2.2 million in matching funds in the water improvement effort as well as through in-kind contributions.

Major funding is provided by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship through the Water Quality Initiative, project partners and significant contributions from landowners, said Bob Waters, of Spirit Lake, western regional coordinator for IDALS’ Water Resources Bureau.

Waters said he and Northey are excited about the overall water quality program that includes the Deep Creek Project receiving a $315,000 grant to help defray the $522,300 project.

The Deep Creek work is to improve drainage in the Remsen and Oyens areas and a portion of Le Mars.

“Our ultimate goal is to reduce nutrient loading to Iowa’s waters and ... the Gulf of Mexico.” —Bob Waters Western regional coordinator, IDALS Water Resources Bureau

“Our ultimate goal,” Waters said, “is to reduce nutrient loading to Iowa’s waters and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico through the installation of farming practices that hold great potential to reduce these losses.”

He said because no single entity can meet this challenge on its own, an extensive partnership has developed among non-government, landowners and governmental agencies.

“We’re hopeful the project will give producers a greater opportunity to see beneficial water quality improvement practices first hand,” Waters said, “and to gain a better understanding of how the practices can be compatible within their own farming operations.”

Work on the project, he said, will begin mid-summer.

James Lahn, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Le Mars, said Iowa’s ag community is familiar with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Farmers were invited by Soil and Water Conservation districts, Lahn said, in counties applying for the assistance “to pull together and forge out plans.”

He credited the support of Iowa’s farmers for the INRS as instrumental in establishing a foundation for the new projects.

Waters said INRS has farmers the opportunity to take steps to reduce run-off to a lower level.

He said Northey planted cover crops, with his funds, as recommended in the strategy at his Spirit Lake farm.

The Deep Creek Water Quality project follows on the heels of last December’s funding of $4.1 million for eight water quality demonstration projects.

Included among these recipients was the Sioux County West Branch of the Floyd River Project awarded a $360,000 to be used for the $368,000 project.

Work began this spring on the 78,000 acre demonstration site for drainage in the areas of Sioux Center, Orange City and Maurice.

Both projects, Waters said, will “afford the agricultural community to move forward with greater (nutrient) reductions.”

Field days to show the expanded conservation practices available to producers are currently in the planning for later this year, he said.

The four additional watershed projects according to Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the May 27 announcement include:

A). The East Nishnabotna Watershed, sponsored by Audubon SWCD ($325,000 grant/ $1.2 million total).

B). Cedar Creek Partnership, sponsored by Wapello SWCD, ($288,000 grant/$837,000 total).

C). Lower Skunk Water Quality and Soil Health, sponsored by Henry SWCD ($368,459 grant/$588,950 total).

D). Walnut Creek Watershed, sponsored by Montgomery SWCD ($480,000 grant/$1,082,880 total).

An additional round of funding for new watershed demonstration projects may, Waters said, be available later this year depending on funding availability.

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