June 27, 2022

Grant to support alternative drainage systems in the Des Moines River Basin focused on improving water quality

Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship receives $1 million grant

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig today highlighted a $1 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to support the water quality efforts underway in the state.

“This grant is another great example of leveraging state funding for water quality and bringing in significant federal and private dollars to help get even more practices on the ground,” Naig said. “This EPA fund will help build saturated buffers, bioreactors, wetlands and other practices that have been shown to significantly reduce the nutrients leaving our land.”

The grant funds will be targeted to the Des Moines River Basin and will be used to support the construction and demonstration of several conservation drainage practices. The project will also help support the Department’s efforts to streamline program development and construction of these practices for landowners. Information learned through the grant project will inform future efforts to aid in delivery and implementation of these practices.

Specifically, the grant funds will be designated to support the construction of 20 saturated buffers, 10 bioreactors, four targeted wetlands, three drainage water recycling systems and two drainage water management systems. These practices are estimated to benefit 2,800 acres and will reduce nitrogen loading by 33-52 percent on average based on values in the Nutrient Reduction Strategy’s science assessment.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt made the announcement at the Omega Planting Company in Clarksdale, Miss., Thursday, May 31.

Background on Iowa Water Quality


The Iowa Water Quality Initiative was established in 2013, to help implement the Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which is a science and technology based approach to achieving a 45 percent reduction in nitrogen and phosphorus losses to our 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.

The Initiative seeks to harness the collective ability of both private and public resources and organizations to deliver a clear and consistent message to stakeholders to reduce nutrient loss and improve water quality.

The initiative is seeing some exciting results. Last fall, 2,600 farmers invested an estimated $8.7 million in funding to match $4.8 million in state cost share funds to adopt cover crops, no-till or strip till, or use a nitrification inhibitor when applying fall fertilizer. Participants include 1,000 farmers using a practice for the first time and more than 1,600 past users who are trying cover crops again and are receiving a reduced rate of cost share.

A total of 65 demonstration projects are currently located across the state to help implement and demonstrate water quality practices. This includes 14 targeted watershed projects, seven projects focused on expanding the use and innovative delivery of water quality practices and 44 urban water quality demonstration projects.

More than 250 organizations are participating in these projects. These partners will provide $37.7 million to go with the $23.4 million in state funding going to these projects.

More than $420 million in funding has been documented for efforts in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy last year. This represents a $32 million increase of funding in support of Iowa water quality programs and conservation efforts over the previous year.

More information about the initiative can be found at CleanWaterIowa.org.