Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds recognized the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance for their outstanding contributions to the environment in a ceremony June 27 at the Wallace Building.
The Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award is the premier environmental honor in Iowa, recognizing leadership and innovation in the protection of Iowa’s natural resources. The prestigious Environmental Excellence Award honored the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance with comprehensive environmental ethics and commitment.
Appanoose County representatives who serve on the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Board include John Glenn, Jody McDanel and Chuck Moore.
The Alliance was established in 1997 to promote cooperation between public and private sectors in an effort to protect land and water resources in the Rathbun Lake Watershed. The 354,000 acre watershed is located in the six southern Iowa counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne.
In 2003, the Alliance was one of only 20 watersheds in the nation to receive the EPA’s Targeted Watershed Initiative Grant. More than a dozen organizations and agencies at the local, state and federal levels partnered with the Alliance to begin implementing best management practices in the Rathbun Lake Watershed. This generated a project which has come to be known as the Protect Rathbun Lake Project.
The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance has grown to be recognized as one of the more effective, locally-led watershed organizations in Iowa. In 2012, Governor Branstad selected the Rathbun Lake Watershed as the location for the field level event as part of Iowa Soil and Water Conservation Week. Elected officials and those interested in the approach taken by the Alliance to protect Rathbun Lake request tours of the watershed on a regular basis.
Since the Protect Rathbun Lake Project began in 2004, Alliance members and partners have provided significant financial and technical support for the organization’s efforts. More than $24 million in financial support has been contributed for project activities in the Rathbun Lake Watershed. Specific mention should be made of the more than $3.3 million invested in best management practices by landowners in the watershed to protect Rathbun Lake.
Cooperating landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed have installed more than one million feet of terraces and nearly 500 ponds. These structures and other best management practices have reduced the annual delivery of sediment to Rathbun Lake by 40,000 tons per year and 170,000 pounds of phosphorus per year.
In addition to the Alliance, the 2013 winners of the Environmental Excellence Award included: City of Clinton Regional Water Reclamation Facility; Des Moines Public Schools; Lennox Industries, Inc.; Marshalltown; and RDG Planning & Design, Des Moines.
The awards are sponsored by the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.
For more information about the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, visit rlwa.org or contact your local soil and water conservation district office.