Accepting applications for water quality planning and development

Goal to have plans in place as water quality funding increases significantly over the next few years

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today announced that applications are now being accepted for water quality planning and development projects. Selected projects will help inform, prioritize and coordinate implementation of conservation practices focused on improving water quality.

“This is an opportunity to bring in new partners to work with farmers and landowners to scale up construction of infrastructure based conservation practices. With long-term water quality funding now joining existing conservation programs, we are able to look several years ahead and make sure we are able to use the additional funding in a targeted, cost-efficient manner to improve water quality” Naig said.

Projects should focus on planning and design efforts that will directly lead to the adoption of water quality focused conservation practices. Successful applicants will need to demonstrate a proven track record of delivering planning, development, and design of projects and practices. Strong partnerships with stakeholders that have or will be contributing significant resources to the project are also critically important.

Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), counties, county conservation boards, other units of government, not-for-profit non-governmental organizations (NGOs), public water supply utilities or watershed management organizations are eligible to submit applications. Applicants are also encouraged to partner with additional stakeholders that will be able to assist with education and outreach.

The applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. Projects selected to receive funding will be announced in early March and are projected to start on April 1, 2019.

Project application guidance can be found here or can be requested by contacting the Department’s Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality at 515-281-5851.

Background on Iowa Water Quality Initiative
The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff to address these issues.

The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

The initiative is seeing some exciting results. This fall, 2,800 farmers invested an estimated $9 million in funding to match $5 million in state cost share funds to adopt cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include more than 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and nearly 1,800 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.

A total of 64 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 43 urban water quality demonstration projects.

More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year.

More information about the initiative can be found online at www.CleanWaterIowa.org.

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