Otter Creek reels in $1.5 million grant


Otter Creek reels in $1.5 million grant

By Mike Van Sickle
Union Editor 

An estimated $1.5 million will be invested in Fayette County’s Otter Creek for voluntary water conservation practices of adjacent landowners. 

The Turkey River Watershed Management Authority (TRWMA) Board of Directors recently approved the recommendation in Postville by the TRWMA executive committee to propose that the Iowa Flood Center select Otter Creek for the model project.

Based on the recent recommendation, the Iowa Flood Center will now invest $1.5 million in voluntary water conservation practices in the 30,000-acre Otter Creek Watershed, a subwatershed of the Turkey River Watershed. The project will be used to test the Flood Center’s flood prevention model for accuracy. 

Earlier this year, the Flood Center selected the Turkey River Watershed as one of three watersheds in the state that will be tested for the model. Larry Weber, director of IIHR Hydroscience and Engineering and Iowa Flood Center, noted that the goal is to slow the water down and take the “peak off the hydrograph” so that the impact of heavy rainfall is not as severe.

“We need to talk to producers in the watershed as soon as possible and find out what type of projects they would be interested in doing,” said Carrie Davis, Otter Creek Project coordinator, on Monday. “This is the time for the producers to provide input in how the funds will be spent. We are seeking input on any issues, problems, and/or solutions they wish to share.”

The Otter Creek Watershed consists of crop, pasture, timber and urban areas. Located from west of West Union to its confluence with the Turkey River in Elgin, Otter Creek is classified as a high quality, cold-water stream. 

Davis explained that the proposed Otter Creek Watershed projects will be related to water retention structures and infiltration practices. 

“It’s all about slowing the water down and keeping it where it falls,” she added.

Following the recent TRWMA meeting, board chairman Rod Marlatt noted that the organization’s Executive Committee recommendation was made through a very fair process. 

Marlatt explained that the applications were received from six Soil Water and Conservation Districts and then ranked by the Executive Committee members. 

The board chairman reported that Otter Creek received the most votes, even after the Fayette County representative’s scores were thrown out.

TRWMA Board representative Cory Meyer of Calmar said, “Otter Creek was a good representation of the Turkey River Watershed, with the same types of land use and topography changes as are seen in the Turkey River Watershed.” 

Anyone interested in participating in the Otter Creek Watershed model project should stop in or call the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office in rural West Union at (563) 422-3868. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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