The Ottumwa Courier

February 9, 2013

Wapello County is watershed finalist

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

SOUTHEAST IOWA — Wapello County is one of four finalists in a project started by the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa.

Wapello County Supervisor Jerry Parker said Friday the Iowa Flood Center has several million dollars to use for watershed projects. Those officials have asked for applications from the watershed districts around the state and narrowed them down to four finalists.

“Soap Creek has partnered with Chequest, another watershed in Davis and Van Buren counties,” Parker said. “Now Soap Creek Watershed includes Davis, Wapello, Appanoose and Monroe counties.”

Parker said the watershed has partnered with others, turned in applications and “made our project.”

“We’re one of the four finalists, and the four won’t be reduced to one,” Parker said. “Next month they’ll reduce it to three.”

Soap Creek Watershed members have worked with the Flood Center and showed how well they can manage a watershed. Parker hopes the watershed members will be one of the three winners next month.

Parker has worked with watershed projects since the 1980s. Soap Creek has had “tremendous success over the years” as shown by the 132 structures in the watershed area.

Soap Creek Watershed is one of the larger ones, and the work has protected the soil, compared to the 100-year range rain that dumped more than 7 inches of rain in 24 hours. Parker said some of the area held back 50 percent so the rain did not run to other creeks.

Parker is chairman of the watershed board and has met with Iowa Flood Center directors who were interested in Parker’s statistics about the watershed’s success.

“Our goal is to be one of the three getting into our watershed,” he said. “We’ll start in 2014 and we’ll spend a year, pick a site, design it, and construct the actual holding facilities.”

Parker noted there will be a public meeting about the watershed at 6 p.m. April 11 at the Rural Electric Coop. He also said the time of the meeting could change.

Lori Altheide of the Natural Resources Conservation said the meeting will be informational and presenters will explain the study and what happens if a certain group is selected.

Later, there will be an announcement about what practices will be available, and Altheide hopes respondants will sign up for things like traditional erosion quality, ponds, terraces and wetlands.

“One landowner could sign up for several items,” Altheide said. “If not approved the first time, there could be a chance of more money or other opportunities to be funded.”

Those who attend the public meeting could get a “good overview of what the project involves,” Altheide added. “Soap Creek is one of the longest-running watersheds. There’s the same interest in Chequest, which just organized and is looking for funding sources.”



For more information

For more information, contact Supervisor Jerry Parker at 641-683-4630 or Lori Altheide at 641-664-2600, ext. 3.