Fifty-eight years ago, the National Association of Conference Districts created Soil & Water Conservation Week to remind people of their role in conservation. This year, that week falls from April 28 to May 5 and emphasizes the theme “Where does your water shed?”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a watershed is defined as “the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental U.S., there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.”
In Jasper County, there are four watersheds: the Middle Iowa River, both the North and South Skunk Rivers and Lake Red Rock. Rainwater, melting snow and ice all converge in each of these four designated areas.
Watersheds have long been used to help define geographical boundaries, and catchment factors of watersheds can determine the odds of flooding for an area.
The South Skunk River most recently flooded Colfax among many other communities in central Iowa in 2010, and had a historical crest or wave height of 23.85 feet according to a government weather website.
Locally, the Jasper County Soil and Water Conservation District aims to assist people in conservation and wise use of soil, water and related resources.
The organization aims to do this through a balanced cooperative program that protects resources and improves those resources according to a release they provided.
What JCSWCD is doing aligns with the language the EPA uses on its watershed worksheet.
“This process (collaboration between agencies) uses a series of cooperative actions to:
• Characterize existing conditions,
• Identify and prioritize problems,
• Define management objectives,
• Develop protection or remediation strategies, and
• Implement and adapt selected actions as necessary.
A watershed plan documents the expected outcomes of this process and serves as the action agenda for managing water quality at the watershed level.”
Several other water districts around the state have activities planned to commemorate the week.
Although JCSWCD hasn’t planned anything at press time, they do offer up some ideas about how to better protect your local watershed:
“Take time to learn about your local community water sources and volunteer for river, stream or beach clean-up days. You can make a difference.”
Some other suggestions from the Center for Watershed Protection include:
• Redirecting rain fall from your roof towards your yard or garden.
• Collecting rain water in a rain barrel and use it to wash your car, or water your garden or lawn.
• Landscape with local plants, as they require less water and fertilizer.
• Properly dispose of animal waste so it doesn’t contaminate the watershed.
• Perform regular upkeep and maintenance on your septic system.
For more information and additional resources regarding protecting your watershed, visit www.cwp.org.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)-792-3121, Ext. 426, or firstname.lastname@example.org