The U.S.D.A.’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has committed a quarter of a million dollars over the next year for a western Iowa water quality project. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the money will be used on conservation measures in the watershed that drains into Slocum Creek, which is in Pottawattamie County.
“Basically we know from an analysis of the upper Mississippi River basin that these combined conservation practices are effective in reducing nitrogen, phosphorus and in reducing soil erosion, so we obviously want to continue to focus on their targeted effort,” Vilsack says.
Slocum Creek is about a mile away from the city of Oakland. State officials have rated Oakland’s water supply as “highly susceptible” to contamination and Oakland gets its drinking water from underground aquifers in the watershed where this project is focused. Vilsack says the Slocum Creek project is part of his agency’s water quality initiative in the entire upper Mississippi River basin. Slocum Creek drains into the Missouri River, which ultimately reaches the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The U.S.D.A. is spending $30 million on 33 projects in the upper Mississippi River basin.
“The key here is to obviously reduce the amount of soil erosion that takes place and that carries with it nitrogen and phosphorus — both that which is applied and nitrates which are organically produced — which, ultimately, get into the Mississippi,” Vilsack says.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service plans to spend $249,000 this year and another $450,000 on the Slocum Creek project in western Iowa over the next two years.