The Middle Cedar Partnership Project: Improving water supply in Iowa

blogimage_IowaWaterComplex environmental problems like improving water supplies, promoting economic growth in agriculture, and sustaining our earth’s resources may benefit from cross-collaboration. Now, more than ever, non-profits, businesses, and local government are banding together to create initiatives that preserve and improve our environment.

This past week, the city of Cedar Rapids and multiple agriculture commodity groups formed an intersector partnership to improve Iowa’s water quality. As part of this partnership, $2 million in Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) funding was approved for water quality improvement projects in the Middle Cedar River. This intersector collaboration, known as The Middle Cedar Partnership Project (MCPP), is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and will receive a portion of the $370 million in RCPP projects nationwide.

Government funds for the project will be supplemented by an additional $2.2 million from partner contributions including the city of Cedar Rapids, the Iowa Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA), and the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA). Sean McMahon, Executive Director of the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, said that Cedar Rapids should be commended for its leadership in partnering with farmers to implement conservation practices.

Sean McMahon talks about his work with the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance and says (first at 4:30 and again at 10:00) that choosing a collaborative approach has been critical for improving water supplies in Cedar Rapids.

To measure the success of the initiative, ISA’s Environmental Program and Services team, along with other partners, will initiate and complete watershed assessments and planning services within the first year of the project. ISA is in a unique position to contribute data to the project. Before joining the partnership, the organization was collaborating upstream with the Miller Creek Water Quality Initiative Project to monitor water quality conditions resulting from conservation practices and tile outlets. According to the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, “data collected from the project will be used to track improvements at the field and practice scale, information that will support the MCPP.”