MAHASKA COUNTY — The Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation District was one of 84 projects across the state that have been awarded funds to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative.

The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013 to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS). The NRS is a science and technology-based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to Iowa’s waters. The strategy brings together both point sources, such as municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial facilities, and nonpoint sources, including farm fields and urban stormwater runoff, to address these issues.

Through both state funding and private partners, more than $49 million has been raised to support these project efforts.

Priority watershed areas within Mahaska County have been established and include the headwaters of Cedar Creek and South Skunk River. The goals of South Skunk and Cedar Creek Watershed Project are to work with farmers and landowners to create measurable improvements in water quality through outreach and clean water practice implementation.

This can be achieved by implementing edge-of-field practices (e.g., nitrogen bioreactors, saturated buffers, and wetlands) at feasible sites as well as in-field practices (e.g. no-till and cover crops). When the two practices are implemented together, significant reductions of nitrates and phosphorus and soil health improvements can be achieved.

There is a large variety of cost incentive programs available to farmers who are interested in these practices. Bryce Lidtka, the project coordinator, has recently achieved an MS in Soil Science and is excited to work closely with farmers to implement practices and receive cost-share funding. If you are or know of someone who is interested in improving the water quality on the farm, please contact Bryce Lidtka at the Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation District (641 673-3476) for more information.

 This press release was sent to the Herald.