Partners launch water quality infrastructure project in central Iowa



Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig recently joined state and federal government agencies, Polk County officials, conservation contractors and local landowners to launch the Central Iowa Water Quality Infrastructure Project. The unique water quality project creates a new framework to streamline and expand the adoption of saturated buffers and denitrifying bioreactors in Polk and Dallas counties by simplifying the financing and construction processes for landowners.

At Kurt Lehman’s farm near Alleman, Iowa, Naig thanked project partners who helped design, build, finance, and recruit landowners for the project. He also thanked the participating landowners for being leaders in conservation.

“This project creates a model that allows us to accelerate the rate at which we add more soil health and water quality practices. These practices directly benefit residents of Polk and Dallas counties and our communities. downstream neighbors, ”Naig said. “Other communities are watching what happens here. We know that success here will lead to successful projects in other priority watersheds in the state.”

Johnathon Swanson, Watershed Management Authority coordinator at Polk County Public Works, calls the rationalization of finance and construction a “tax agent” model that allows contractors to access sites through an easement of temporary construction. “The easement allows entrepreneurs to access private land and ensure that the expectations of landowners and funding agencies are met,” he said. “Paying the easement to the landowner encouraged participation and helped generate interest in the project.

The building contractors kicked off Phase 1 of the project in June, which is expected to last around a year. Teams are installing 40 saturated buffers and 11 bioreactors along the edges of agricultural fields to help protect water quality and support recreational activities in the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers.

Phase 2 of the project is expected to include 150 more sites and other counties and partners in the future.

Conservation practices at work

Saturated buffers have underground side pipes that divert water drained by tiles through a plant buffer. The vegetative buffer zone removes sediment, phosphorus and pesticide runoff, while creating wildlife habitat.

Bioreactors are dug pits filled with wood chips that filter the drainage water from the tiles. As the water from the tile pipe passes through the wood chips, the denitrifying bacteria convert the nitrates in the tile water to nitrogen gas.

Location of sites

Swanson said the sites were selected using mapping tools that take into account topography, bank heights and soil types to identify project sites that will have the greatest impact on quality. some water.

From there, the organizers reached out to farmers and landowners living along Fourmile, Mud, Camp, Spring and Walnut streams to encourage them to get involved.

“The identification of multiple sites in a county made it easier and more attractive for contractors to bid on the project,” Swanson said, “which reduced the overall costs of the project”.

Project partners

The Central Iowa Water Quality Infrastructure Project was formed through close collaboration between the following entities:

• Polk Soil and Water Conservation District
• Polk County
• Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
• USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service
• Coalition for Agricultural Drainage Management

For more information on the project, visit

Sources: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa NRCS, which is responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and its subsidiaries are not responsible for the content of this information asset.


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