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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.
The Iowa Watershed ApproachMore information on Iowa's newest WMAs, winners of US Department of Housing and Urban Development's National Disaster Resilience Competition.
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:
A WMA does not have taxing authority and it may not acquire property through eminent domain.
(per Iowa Code Chapter 466B.2)
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:
The actual steps to forming a WMA in your watershed will vary based on local needs and available resources. Here are some preliminary steps you may want to consider as you get started.
What are the resource concerns within the watershed that will motivate communities to participate in a WMA? These could include, but are not limited to:
To start the WMA formation process, you may want to create a list of informational resources or consult with technical experts in order to gain an accurate understanding of environmental conditions. Also, at this stage you may want to develop a map of the watershed, which is a required component of the 28E agreement submitted to the Iowa Secretary of State. The map should include all political subdivisions that will be invited to participate in the WMA. The Iowa DNR can assist with creating watershed maps.
The overarching goals of the proposed WMA may be to address flood impacts or improve water quality, but it is important to underscore the tangible short-term benefits of participating in a WMA. These might include:
While the ultimate goals and objectives of the WMA will need to be developed in collaboration with other WMA partners, it will be helpful to the decision-making process of potential members to have a better understanding of the process and types of activities the WMA may undertake.
Invite all cities, counties, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts to participate in the WMA
It is important to note that, per Iowa code, all eligible political subdivisions (SWCDs, cities and counties) must be invited to participate in the WMA. There are many different ways to approach this step, and your method will depend on local needs. Your contact with the potential members could include any one or combination of the following outreach methods:
In your outreach to potential WMA members, be sure to highlight the benefits of participation. No political subdivision is required to participate in a WMA, and with limited staff resources, they will want to understand what they are likely to get out of their involvement. Be sure to document all communications with eligible entities to demonstrate that this requirement has been met.
For more information on the 28E formation process:
A list of funding resources has been compiled on the Iowa Stormwater Education Program website.
Western Iowa River BasinsKyle Ament
Eastern Iowa River BasinsMary Beth Stevenson