The Ottumwa Courier

March 15, 2013

Watershed finalists selected

Soap Creek, Chequest Creek partnership will have more than $1M to invest in holding structures

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Four watersheds will soon have help in controlling all the rain that runs off with soil particles and heads for the nearest creek.

The Iowa Flood Center and IIHR — Hydroscience & Engineering (IIHR) at the University of Iowa have announced the selection of four watersheds for the initial phase of the Iowa Watersheds Project.

Those selected entries and respective watersheds include Clayton County for the Turkey River, Dallas County for the Middle/South Raccoon River, Davis County for Soap Creek and Chequest Creek and Floyd County for the Upper Cedar River.

Soap Creek Watershed in Wapello County has been chosen as one of the finalists for state funding of holding structures that save the soil, according to Wapello County Supervisor Jerry Parker. He also said three people would get the state money.

Soap Creek Watershed will get $450,000, and Chequest Creek Watershed has partnered with Wapello County. That means they have $1,050,000 to invest.

Each finalist chosen gets one project.

“In our case, we partnered with another watershed, and that gave us two projects, Soap Creek and Chequest Creek,” Parker said.

The selected watersheds will partner with the Iowa Flood Center and IIHR on a multi-year project to monitor, plan and implement watershed projects aimed at reducing the adverse impacts of flooding in Iowa. Specific goals of the watershed projects include maximizing soil water holding capacity from precipitation, minimizing severe soil erosion and sand deposition during floods, managing water runoff in uplands under saturated soil moisture conditions and reducing and mitigating structural and nonstructural flood damage.

In the initial phase of the project, researchers at the Iowa Flood Center and IIHR will work with local entities to complete a detailed hydrologic assessment of each watershed that will identify areas where the implementation of flood mitigation projects is most likely to reduce downstream flood damages. Funds will be available during the second phase of the project for the design and construction of watershed projects in identified areas of the watersheds.

Specific watershed mitigation projects for this study will be determined in the second phase. Potential projects may include water storage structures, flood plain restoration, buffer strip installation and enhancement, advanced tile drainage systems and flood easement acquisition.

The constructed watershed improvement projects will be monitored by researchers throughout the study and evaluated at completion to demonstrate their impact and effectiveness. The results from the Iowa Watershed Projects will provide critical information to guide the implementation and design of additional watershed projects across the state of Iowa.

Funding for the Iowa Watershed Projects is provided through the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Relief allocation and is available only to the 85 counties (or cities within those counties) declared federal disaster areas during the 2008 flood.

The public meeting concerning the funds and the structures will be April 11 at the Rural Electric Building in Davis County, and that’s when they’ll take comments about the watersheds and whether the projects did well. And they want to know where to spend the money.

The Soap Creek Four are Davis, Wapello, Monroe and Appanoose counties.

“We’ll be doing a variety of watershed projects, such as building holding structures in the wetlands and terracing,” Parker said. “We’ll do a cost share with Soap Creek, which will make the money go further.”

Over the next few months, the group will decide the project’s location, which will be limited to one of the four counties.