OTTUMWA — This year, Iowa celebrates its 72nd Soil & Water Conservation Week, but for the state of Iowa’s 100 Soil and Water Conservation Districts, every week is Soil & Water Conservation Week.
Soil and Water Conservation Districts were established after the Dust Bowl to prevent environmental problems caused by human use of the land and to ensure sustainable agriculture. Iowa depends on its soil to produce food for the world. Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, hogs and eggs. Iowa lakes, rivers and streams are valuable to Iowans and the state’s economy. Each year, six out of 10 residents visit Iowa’s lakes, streams and rivers, generating $1.6 billion. Despite all of these resources that we depend on, less than 2 percent of the state budget is allocated to protect our soil and water resources in Iowa.
The Wapello County Soil and Water Conservation District has taken part in four local watershed projects in recent years: Soap Creek, Kettle Creek, Buckeye Creek and Competine Creek. Of these, Soap Creek and Competine Creek are still active projects. Watershed projects coordinate efforts and concentrate resources to identify and create solutions to water quality problems. Practices such as cover crops, no-till farming and constructing terraces can reduce erosion and prevent soil and nutrients from entering our lakes and streams. In 2012, through the aid of federal, state and landowner funding, Wapello County has applied conservation practices to improve water quality on an additional 13,822 acres of ground.
As part of Soil and Water Conservation Week, Ryan Rasmussen, Competine Creek Watershed coordinator, will be visiting Pekin school to teach students about nutrient pollution and how it affects water quality in their watershed. Pekin FFA students have taken an active role in Competine watershed by collecting water samples each year to monitor the health of the stream and learn more about water quality.
For more information about cost share programs and how you can be involved in conservation within your own watershed, contact the Wapello County Soil and Water Conservation District at 641-682-0752.