DES MOINES — The efforts of Iowans in 2012 to improve Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams have resulted in success stories across the state, and more efforts are underway for 2013. Working with groups statewide, including the Iowa DNR’s Watershed Improvement Program, Iowans are making changes on the land to improve our waters.
“What we each do individually on our land, whether it’s an urban yard or a farm field, has an impact on water quality – but when we come together as local groups and think strategically, we can make a big impact,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. “This approach benefits not only water quality, but Iowa communities, as improved water quality often results in a better quality of life. Great fishing and hunting creates tourism, kids have cleaner water to play and swim in, and improvements can help drinking water.”
The DNR works with other state and federal agencies to help Iowans organize local watershed improvement efforts by providing technical and financial assistance to create long-term, comprehensive plans. With watershed management plans, local groups work with landowners and residents to make changes on the land in areas that can make the largest impact on water quality.
For example, Lake Hendricks – a rare lake nestled away in the trout country of northeast Iowa – is seeing increased park use, better fishing and more following a watershed project there. The project focused on park land to make improvements to how water ran over the land and into the lake, but also worked with surrounding landowners. The effort eliminated all actively eroding gullies near the lake and treats water from all 11 tile lines that enter the lake.
“We will see results fairly soon because our watershed’s small and we gave attention to every source of water into the lake,” said Howard County Conservation Director Howard Chapman. “The lake is a big part of the community, so when we can do projects like this, they really appreciate it.”
The Lake Hendricks story, as well as other success stories from 2012, are highlighted in “Working for Clean Water: 2012 Watershed Improvement Successes in Iowa,” a booklet available at http://watershed.iowadnr.gov/WatershedSuccesses.aspx