Iowa’s black soil is considered some of the best in the world and state officials say efforts to save that fertile dirt from washing downstream are paying off. Steve Hopkins, with the Iowa D.N.R.’s watershed improvement program, says conservation practices put in place during 2010 are showing clear results with much less runoff into streams and rivers.
Thanks to funding from the D.N.R., the state ag department’s Division of Soil Conservation and individual landowners, Hopkins says they’ve seen “significant” reductions in sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen loads. Thanks to all of the efforts in the past year, Hopkins says nearly 24,000 tons of Iowa soil are staying put and will not be washing into our waterways.
If that much dirt was loaded into dump trucks, he says it would form a line more than seven miles long. “There have been significant sediment load reductions that have been documented and that’s part of our ongoing work at the D.N.R. Watershed Improvement Program,” Hopkins says. “Those numbers are based on estimates of pollutant load reductions from a series of best management practices in those watershed projects.”
He says the numbers show conservation practices on agricultural and urban land are effectively cutting the numbers of pollutants from reaching Iowa’s rivers and streams. “A number of the practices that are being installed in these projects include standard soil conservation practices such as sediment basins, grass waterways, filter strips,” Hopkins says. “In addition, other types of practices like stream bank stabilization to target areas where we know there’s sediment that is reaching streams and lakes in the state.”
During the past year, the D.N.R. helped to pay for 372 locally-led water conservation projects statewide. The agency is now taking applications for grant funding for new watershed efforts. Learn more at: watershed.iowadnr.gov.