The Turkey River Watershed Management Authority met on March 28th at the YMCA in Postville. Approximately 60 attendees, including the TRWMA Board, listened to presentations given by NRCS Iowa State Conservationist, Jay Mar and Larry Weber, the Director of IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering and Iowa Flood Center.
Before the presentations, the TRWMA Board accepted a recommendation from the TRWMA Executive Committee and voted unanimously to recommend the Iowa Flood Center select Otter Creek in Fayette County for modeling. Based on that recommendation, the Iowa Flood Center will now invest $1.5 million in voluntary water conservation practices in Otter Creek, a subwatershed of the Turkey River Watershed, to test their flood prevention model for accuracy. Earlier this year, the Iowa Flood Center selected the Turkey River Watershed as one of three watersheds in Iowa where they will test their modeling. Larry Weber noted that the goal is to slow the water down and take the “peak off the hydrograph” so that the impact of heavy rainfall is not as severe.
TRWMA Board Chair, Rod Marlatt, noted that the decision of the TRWMA Executive Committee to recommend Otter Creek to the full TRWMA as the selected subwatershed was made through a very fair process. Applications for consideration were received from six SWCDs and then ranked by the Executive Committee members. He reported that the Otter Creek received the most votes, even after the Fayette County representative’s scores were thrown out. The TRWMA Board representative from the City of Calmar, Cory Meyer, said that he felt that, “Otter Creek was a good representation of the Turkey River Watershed, with the same types of land use and topography changes as are seen in the Turkey River Watershed.”
Lora Friest, Northeast Iowa RC&D Executive Director, reported that public meetings throughout the watershed in Elkader, Cresco, West Union and Calmar have been well attended with as many as 60 participants. RC&D staff and TRWMA Executive Committee members have also been meeting with county Farm Bureau Boards and producer group representatives including the Iowa Corn Growers. She noted that, “Attendees have many questions but have been very receptive. They seem to recognize that if everyone does something, together we can make a difference, reduce flooding and improve water quality.” She also noted that some of the county Soil and Water Conservation Districts had multiple producers stopping into their offices after the public meetings to find out how they could help. “All in all, the message has been well received, but then I didn’t expect anything less since Northeast Iowa has some of the most dedicated, conservation-minded, producers in Iowa”. This sentiment was backed up by accounts from Clayton County NRCS District Conservationist Pat Schaefers who noted that there are so many producers signing up for terracing cost share in Clayton County that there is a ten-year waiting list. He and other agency personnel attended the meeting noting that they are hopeful that the TRWMA can help them secure more funding to put conservation on the ground.
The next Turkey River Watershed Management Authority meeting was scheduled for June 27th. More information, past meeting minutes and upcoming meeting announcements can be found at www.turkeyriver.org.