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Watershed Management Authorities in Iowa

Learn how Watershed Management Authorities are reducing flood risk and protecting Iowa water quality.In 2010, Iowa lawmakers passed legislation authorizing the creation of Watershed Management Authorities. A Watershed Management Authority (WMA) is a mechanism for cities, counties, Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and stakeholders to cooperatively engage in watershed planning and management.

Map of WMAs in Iowa

List of active Iowa WMAs

The WMA is formed by a Chapter 28E Agreement by two or more eligible political subdivisions within a specific eight-digit hydrologic unit code watershed. A board of directors governs the WMA, which may undertake the following activities:

  • Assess and reduce flood risk;
  • Assess and improve water quality;
  • Monitor federal flood risk planning and activities;
  • Educate residents of the watershed regarding flood risks and water quality; and
  • Allocate moneys made available to the Authority for purposes of water quality and flood mitigation.

A WMA does not have taxing authority and it may not acquire property through eminent domain.

Requirements of a WMA:
(per Iowa Code Chapter 466B.2)

  • Must be located within an 8-digit HUC watershed
  • All political subdivisions (cities, Counties, SWCDs) must be notified and provided the opportunity to participate within 30 days prior to WMA organization
  • A Chapter 28E agreement that includes a map of the watershed must be filed with the Secretary of State
  • The WMA must be governed by a Board of Directors
  • WMAs may not acquire land through eminent domain and do not have taxing authority

Full text of the Iowa code chapter that describes the creation of WMAs

Benefits of forming a WMA:
WMAs have been formed across Iowa for a variety of reasons. While the driving motivation for WMA formation may be water quality improvement and/or flood risk reduction, there are multiple benefits to cooperating with other jurisdictions within a watershed:

  • Conduct planning on a watershed scale, which has greater benefits for water quality improvement and flood risk reduction
  • Foster multi-jurisdictional partnership and cooperation
  • Leveraging resources such as funding, technical expertise
  • Facilitate stakeholder involvement in watershed management

Learn more about forming a WMA

DNR Contacts for WMA technical assistance:
Kyle Ament :
Mary Beth Stevenson: