OAKLAND — Up until now, southwest Iowa cities, counties and other entities dealt with flood mitigation and water quality improvement more or less on their own.
But, as a University of Iowa professor said at a meeting in Oakland on Wednesday, a river doesn’t end at a county border.
Thus, a coalition that includes a much larger area of cities and counties, as well as soil and water conservation districts, emergency managers, landowners and other interested parties seemed the way to go.
That’s what happened at the Oakland Community Center with the official creation of a coalition for the East and West Nishnabotna Watershed districts.
“This is a new day,” said Larry Weber, professor from the Iowa’s College of Engineering.
Similar comments came from Michelle Wodtke Franks, executive director for the Oakland-based Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development agency.
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“In the past, what we lacked was a comprehensive look at a big area,” she said. “I think this will be a great thing.”
Such coalitions, it was noted at the meeting, offer ways for different cities, counties, soil and conservation districts and other stakeholders to cooperatively plan for and manage their respective watershed districts.
The new coalition for the East and West Nishnabotna Watersheds includes all or part of Carroll, Crawford, Shelby, Audubon, Guthrie, Pottawattamie, Cass, Adair, Mills, Montgomery, Fremont and Page counties.
Together, 24 jurisdictions will make up this coalition, said Wodtke Franks.
“To have 24 jurisdictions shows good support and we should get diverse input,” she said.
State Sen. Tom Shipley, who represents many in this coalition, was in attendance and seemed impressed with the goals.
“These are geared to improve conservation and water quality,” he said.
Such projects to achieve these goals, along with flood mitigation, can include construction of farm ponds, wetlands or storm water detention basins, as well as restoration of floodplains and implementation of perennial cover and buffer strips, it was mentioned at the meeting.
Fifty people attended Wednesday’s meeting to learn more on the purpose of these coalitions and to elect the board members of this new coalition. Scott Belt, a Pottawattamie County supervisor, was elected the coalition’s chairman.
“It will be a learning process,” he said. “For the communities, it’s a better way to address water quality.”