The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says conservation efforts developed with the help of federal funds in 2006 kept nearly 19,000 tons of soil from reaching Iowa streams and lakes. Becky Schwiete oversees the program for the DNR.
Schwiete says there are an array of conservation plans that can help slow down water, or hold the water so it settles down and the sediment settles to the bottom and the water moves on to the stream or lake. Schwiete says they have a formula that determines how much sediment, or soil was stopped from flowing into the waterways. She says they put a conservation practice in place and several factors such as soil type, slope and amount of rainfall five them a science-based model to determine how much sediment was stopped.
The DNR says the sediment stopped from flowing into waterways in 2006 could fill a line of dump trucks almost six miles long. Schwiete says it’s a good start on the problem. Schwiete says they’re working with a small percentage of the lands that need treatment, so a they are only stopping a small percentage of the sediment that would reach the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. But, she says you have to start somewhere.
Schwiete says another benefit is the collection of over 37,000 tons of phosphorus linked to the sediment that also didn’t get into the water. She says phosphorus increases growth in the water, often by plants, such as algae that don’t help the water body. Schwiete says the process is underway now to select the next round of projects.
Schwiete says by the time everything is all done, it will probably be next January before the next round of grants are offered. She says the grants run two to three years, so the development of the conservation projects is ongoing. Schwiete says the conservation measures will continue to reduce pollutants at the same rate if they are properly maintained.