DES MOINES — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig highlighted the 10th anniversary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Urban Conservation program. The program’s mission is to provide communities, homeowners, businesses, commercial developers and other stakeholders with the tools to help improve water quality and reduce flood risk.
“Our urban conservation efforts are built on the premise everyone has a role to play in conservation. We have been extremely encouraged by the growing interest by communities of all size in these practices. They understand that there are more and more tools available to help them effectively manage stormwater while also protecting water quality,” Naig said.
The Department’s urban conservation program began in 2008 and at that time was focused on education and providing technical assistance. This included helping communities and landowners by reviewing stormwater practices on development sites, helping respond to erosion concerns, and helping address stormwater and flooding issues.
In recent years, the Department has partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) State Revolving Fund (SRF), and the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Community Development Block Grant programs to significantly increase the amount of funding available for urban conservation work.
Highlights of the urban conservation work that has taken place include:
· Supporting more than 150 urban conservation projects in communities across the state that have totaled more than $85 million
· Implementing $12 to $15 million in urban projects annually
· Partnering with more than 150 organizations
· 5 staff working with communities, businesses and homeowners to educate about the impact our urban areas can have on water quality and soil erosion.
Urban conservation practices focus on slowing stormwater runoff and allowing it to infiltrate into the ground, rather than run directly into the nearest water body.
Examples of urban conservation practices that can be installed include bioretention cells, bioswales, native landscaping, permeable pavement, rain gardens, sedimentation basins, soil quality restoration, stormwater wetlands and others. More information about these practices can be found at https://www.cleanwateriowa.org/urban/.
The Department has supported 44 urban water quality demonstration projects through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative. These projects are providing $9.7 million to go with $3.3 million in state funding to support these projects. More information about each of these projects is available at https://www.cleanwateriowa.org/urban-1/.
— Iowa Department of Agriculture
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