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Water projects approved

By Staff | Apr 6, 2015

ANKENY (ISA) – The March 24 decision by the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees to sue the boards of supervisors in Sac, Buena Vista and Calhoun counties for allegedly allowing nitrates from 10 drainage districts they oversee to pollute the Raccoon River, a primary source water for the utility, won’t deter environmental efforts in the region.

Roger Wolf, Iowa Soybean Association’s Environmental Programs and Services director, says the organization’s commitment to environmental and agronomic performance is steadfast and will be for decades to come.

Des Moines Water Works CEO Bill Stowe has repeatedly said the lawsuit is necessary to protect the utility’s 500,000 customers because farmers and the state won’t take necessary steps to improve water quality, and voluntary conservation efforts are a failure.

That’s simply not the case, Wolf says. ISA has invested more than $40 million which includes a combination of Soybean Checkoff, public and private funds, and since 2001, in EPS and On-Farm Network programs to help farmers be more productive and profitable in a sustainable way.

A big emphasis is nutrient retention, which effects water quality.

“We’re owning these issues,” Wolf said. “ISA Board members, through strategic investments, have made water quality and soil health a priority. It’s a responsibility to the community we take seriously.”

ISA is one of more than 30 partners in three watershed demonstration projects, two are in counties involved in the lawsuit recently announced by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. They include:

  • The Elk Run Watershed Water Quality Initiative Project – Sac, Carroll and Calhoun counties.
  • Headwaters North Raccoon River – Buena Vista and Pocahontas counties
  • Leading a New Collaborative Approach to Improving Water Quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed – Story, Boone and Hamilton counties

The demonstration watershed projects cover nearly 275,000 acres, and join 13 other WQI initiatives statewide.

The projects will implement and demonstrate the effectiveness and adaptability of a host of conservation practices including cover crops, nutrient management, wetlands, terraces, bioreactors, buffer strips, no-till, strip-till and nitrogen inhibitors, among other infield and edge-of-field practices.

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative will provide $1.4 million to the three new projects, coupled with matching funds, during the next three years.

ISA member and Calhoun County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner, Brent Johnson encourages farmers to participate in the projects.

He farms 900 acres and operates a crop consulting business near Manson.

“We definitely need to be engaged in the process,” Johnson said. “Farmers are always looking for ways to be more sustainable.”

ISA is involved in most of the watershed projects statewide.

The EPS and On-Farm Network teams provide a variety of services from conservation planning, implementation and water monitoring to data collection, interpretation and replicated strip trials.

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