POSTVILLE, IOWA – May 20TH, 2014 – Five rainfall and soil moisture gauges have been placed in the Otter Creek watershed, a sub-watershed of the Turkey River that covers a 30,000 acre area from West Union to Elgin in Fayette County. The gauges measure hourly rainfall, soil moisture, and soil temperature at each location. Data is available online at http://ifis.iowafloodcenter.org/ifis/main/?v=b.
Twenty rain gauges were installed in the Turkey River Watershed in 2013 as part of a project with NASA but the gauges were only in place for about two months. Since that time, RC&D, the TRWMA, and the IFC have been working on getting new gauges into the watershed. In addition to being popular with producers, gardeners, and morel mushroom hunters because of the real-time data available online, the gauges are a valuable tool that provides information on the current conditions in the watershed. “The rain gauges show us how precipitation falls across the watershed and allowing us to see how the Turkey River responds to the rain. We use that information to get a feel for the health of the watershed.” Ross Evelsizer, watershed planner with RC&D stated.
The gauges are part of an ongoing planning process involving the Turkey River Watershed Management Authority (TRWMA), the Iowa Flood Center (IFC), Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D), local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and the Turkey River Watershed Alliance, a collaborative of local, county, state and federal technicians that have been monitoring water quality over the past three years, as well as local producers, producer groups, landowners and community members. The goal of this collaborative is to reduce flooding and nutrient loss in the Turkey River Watershed. The data from the gauges is used by the IFC to model flooding and nutrient loss in the Turkey River Watershed by taking into account precipitation, soil saturation, and land cover.
In a recent report of modeling results, the IFC showed that constructing 14 ponds in the Otter Creek Watershed could reduce stream flow approximately 34% after a 5 inch rainfall. Ponds are just one practice to be combined with wetlands, native plantings, cover crops, and many more, that will be included in the comprehensive watershed plans that will reduce the amount of runoff leaving the landscape after rainfall events. As the plans are developed by the TRWMA and Northeast Iowa RC&D, the IFC can incorporate practices included into their model to show the resulting reduction in river flow and nutrient loads.
RC&D, the TRWMA, and the IFC are working on putting similar gauges back across the entire Turkey River Watershed. More information, past meeting minutes and upcoming meeting announcements can be found at www.turkeyriver.org. If you are interested in putting in flood reduction or nutrient reduction practice and live in the Turkey River Watershed, contact Ross Evelsizer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 563-864-7112.