Multiple Stakeholders Share Approaches for Source Water Protection

The Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance (IAWA) Advisory Council recently met and tackled the important topic of source water protection. Source water refers to sources of water (such as rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and groundwater) that provide water to public drinking water supplies and private wells.

Cities and agencies are increasingly incorporating source water protection into a wide range of programs, and these efforts are relevant to the implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Click on the video to watch a panel discussion moderated by Jamie Benning, IAWA Advisory Council Chair and Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Guest presentations include the following:

  • “Farmer-focused outreach and source water protection in the Lake Rathbun Watershed” — Marty Braster, Administrative Manager at Rathbun Regional Water Association, Velvet Buckingham, environmental specialist with the USDA NRCS and coordinator for the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Project, and Brian DeMoss, Environmental Specialist with the Lucas County SWCD
  • “Source Water Protection – New People and Approaches at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)” — Steve Hopkins, Nonpoint Source Coordinator, Iowa DNR
  • “Building Partnerships for Source Water Protection in the Cedar River Watershed” — Mike Kuntz, Utilities Environmental Manager, and Mary Beth Stevenson, City of Cedar Rapids Watersheds & Source Water Coordinator
  • “Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRSCS) Update – Source Water Protection” — Scott Cagle, Assistant State Conservationist (Partnerships), USDA NRCS Iowa

The Farm Bill requires the NRCS to:

  • Consider and encourage water quality and quantity conservation practices that protect water from ag impacts while benefitting ag producers.
  • Collaborate with community water systems to identify priority areas.
  • Ensure that at least 10% of Farm Bill financial assistance goes towards source water protection.

A newly approved Regional Conservation Partners Program (RCPP) in Iowa will help meet those requirements. The “Cedar River Source Water Partnership” (CWSRP) RCPP will receive $7,028,362 in RCPP funding from NRCS to improve water quality and protect source water in the Cedar River watershed.

The City of Cedar Rapids will serve as the lead on this new RCPP. The CWSRP continues the city’s work upstream in agricultural areas to improve water quality in the Cedar River.

IAWA is pleased to work with the city as well as several other partners on the project.

Other partners include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Land O’ Lakes Truterra, City of Charles City, Linn County Conservation Board, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa DNR, Ingredion Inc, Iowa Future Farmers of America, and iHeart Media/WHO Radio.

It is estimated these partners will bring over $10M in match contributions to the project for an anticipated total investment of more than $17.5M.