Iowa awarded $97 million for flood reduction and water quality

Iowa awarded $97 million for flood reduction and water quality

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey along with key federal and state partners announced today that the state of Iowa was awarded nearly $97 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the National Disaster Resilience Competition that will help accelerate flood reduction and water quality efforts in key watersheds over the next five years.

Through this new federal funding, the state will continue collaborative efforts in both urban and rural areas to reduce flooding and install voluntary new water quality practices.

“I am proud that Iowa is being recognized for our leadership in advancing innovative and data-driven flood reduction and water quality efforts,” Branstad said. “This grant adds significant federal resources to build on the efforts of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and complements our recent proposal to extend the SAVE fund to support long-term funding for education infrastructure and water quality efforts.”

The Iowa project—the Iowa Watersheds Approach (IWA)—identified flood reduction and water quality efforts in nine targeted watersheds, including Bee Branch Creek; Clear Creek; East Nishnabotna; English River; North Raccoon River; Middle Cedar River; Upper Iowa; Upper Wapsipinicon River; and the West Nishnabotna River.

“This is another example of Iowa leading the way with innovative projects that brings together state, federal and local partners to achieve important water quality improvements,” Sec. Northey said.

State of Iowa leaders began pursuing this grant in the fall of 2014 when they saw the opportunity to advance two long-term public policy priorities – reducing flood risks and advancing water quality. Agriculture, multiple state agencies, universities and organizations collaborated to win the federal grant. Iowa’s proposal rose to the top of more than 40 state applicants in a national disaster resilience competition, largely due to the good work already underway to solve Iowa’s water quality and flooding challenges.

“This is a multi-decade challenge to improve water quality on our farms, reduce flooding in our cities and better prepare for seasonal climactic variability,” said Sean McMahon, executive director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance. “This grant will result in more resilient farms, more resilient cities, more resilient ecosystems and a more resilient Iowa. We are pleased to be part of this collaborative effort that will help to demonstrate, expand and replicate the watershed approach to improving water quality in Iowa.”

State leaders summarized the goals of the project in their grant submission support letter: “The goals of our project, the Iowa Watershed Approach, are to reduce flood risk and improve water quality in Iowa by implementing a suite of projects upstream that retain water and increase infiltration.”