2013 marked the one-year anniversary of the formation of the Turkey River Watershed Management Authority (TRWMA). The TRWMA was established under a 28E agreement by 7 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, 23 communities, and 5 counties with the intent of reducing flooding and improving water quality in the Turkey River Watershed. The TRWMA holds quarterly public meetings. The meetings include presentations from various experts, information sharing regarding ongoing projects in the watershed, and facilitated planning discussions. The TRWMA has enlisted the help of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) over the next few years to develop a comprehensive plan for flood control and water quality improvement.
Successful development and implementation of large scale plans such as those in the Turkey River Watershed require collaboration from many different partners. The TRWMA would like input from everyone in the watershed that is willing to engage in the discussion. They have held public meetings, encouraged on-line input and recently completed a survey of 1,500 watershed residents. Several committees are also working to provide input to the TRWMA Board regarding which strategies to incorporate into their Plan and how to expand partnerships. Collaborating partners include County Engineers, County Supervisors, SWCD Commissioners, TRW Communities, Iowa Corn Growers, the Iowa Flood Center, and the TRW Alliance. Collaboration from so many partners provides unique opportunities to work across political boundaries and increases the likelihood the collective efforts will succeed.
A number of projects in the Turkey River Watershed have already been funded as a result of the TRWMA’s work. The Iowa Flood Center selected Otter Creek as one of only four watersheds to install watershed improvement projects and model the effects on flood reduction. Clayton County and Winneshiek County SWCD’s recently received grants as part of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy to work in sub-watersheds of the Turkey River Watershed in their respective counties. The head of the Iowa Flood Center, Larry Weber, noted at a recent meeting that the Clayton and Winneshiek County projects were funded in large part because of their participation in the TRWMA. Communities in the Turkey River Watershed are also taking action. West Union, Elgin, Fayette, Calmar, Monona, and Clermont have begun work or completed projects, many others are planning for how they can participate.
Work in the Turkey River Watershed is far from complete but the TRWMA is driving in the direction of improvement. Local participation and input is a valued part of any successful plan.