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Improving Iowa’s water quality is more than a one-person effort. The DNR is here to help local groups as they work to improve their rivers, lakes and streams. You can rely on our knowledge and expertise for your watershed questions.
Iowans that form a organized local watershed project can receive planning guidance, project funding and other assistance from agencies like the DNR.
What a watershed project does
An organized watershed effort assesses problems, creates solutions and works with local landowners and residents to make changes on the land. Those changes on the land help prevent pollutants from reaching lakes, rivers and streams. An organized project can provide financial assistance to landowners to use conservation practices, which are ways to manage the land for better water quality. Projects can also organize different volunteer and community events to help improve water quality and generate community support.
- Taking the first step: Local efforts
- Read about watershed success stories
If you have a local stream, river or lake that is of concern, needs its good water quality maintained or is included on the state's impaired waters list, your group can be eligible for grant funding from a number of sources.
If that's the case, have your group meet with your local Soil and Water Conservation District, your Basin Coordinator (see below) to discuss funding opportunities to help you launch your effort.
In short, here are the six steps in getting started:
1. Create a local group interested in improving your stream or lake
2. Meet with your Basin Coordinator or the DNR
3. Apply for grants to help with planning efforts
4. Develop a Watershed Management Plan
5. Apply for funding to put the plan in action
6. Use funding to install conservation practices and raise awareness
Additional information on creating a watershed project is available from the DNR or your Basin Coordinator.
Getting Started: Resources
For Existing Watershed Efforts
DNR Watershed Improvement staff can assist with your project from the planning stages to completion. The DNR, along with our watershed improvement partners (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship- Division of Soil Conservation and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service), offers the following:
From the sediment delivery calculator to tools to use in the field, a number of support options are available to watershed groups.
The DNR and its partners can assist with assessments in the watershed, which help determine what the problems are and where they're coming from. These include stream (RASCAL), gully, watershed land cover and tillage, livestock and other assessments. Project coordinators can use tools from the DNR, like tablet computers and hand-held GIS units, to complete these assessments.
Project coordinators can also use the Sediment Delivery Calculator, a database that calculates sediment delivery reduction resulting from conservation practices installed during a project.
Projects can receive advice on selection and design of conservation practices, as well as help with cost-share and funding assistance issues from DNR, DSC and NRCS.
More information on technical assistance is available from your Basin Coordinator.
Basin Coordinators work with watershed projects on assessments, grant applications and developing local watershed efforts. The basin coordinators can also answer day-to-day questions from project coordinators.
The DNR’s project officers work with the projects and Basin Coordinators on project planning, development and oversight, and contracts. The project officers also serve as a contact with EPA and can answer questions on eligibility for 319 funds. Once you have a grant, DNR project officers will visit you in the field at least twice a year to help you reach your watershed improvement goals.
Both the Basin Coordinators and DNR project officers can help plan your project.
Project officer and basin coordinator contact info
Help on your public outreach efforts (sometimes referred to as "Information and Education") is available from the DNR. Contact your Basin Coordinator for more information and browse these resources: