Cedar Rapids launches project to protect watershed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids launches project to protect watershed

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BLACK HAWK COUNTY (KWWL) - City leaders announced a new project Thursday in an effort to help protect and conserve the Cedar River Watershed.

The Middle Cedar Partnership Project, led by the City of Cedar Rapids, will aim to manage the water in the Cedar Valley in hopes of preventing flooding. The USDA will help fund the roughly $4 million project.

Leaders hope to work closely with farmers in the area, since what can happen to rivers, and communities by rivers, can begin in farmers' fields.

Farmer Dave Ulrich in Black Hawk County says the wheels are always turning in terms of conservation. Runoff is a major concern for any farmer, so he says practices are currently in place.

"Widen their creek ways, put grass strips along there, that helps collect debris if you have a quick rainfall," Ulrich said.

Farmers also create dikes and holding ponds to manage and control runoff. Ulrich's holding ponds can hold thousands of gallons of water, and release the water slowly. Farmers can also use vertical tilling to help with runoff.

However, concern with runoff is still there, especially with weather events and the change in seasons.

Ulrich says there's no miracle when it comes to conservation, but at the same time, he says there are too many holes.

"There's still absentee farmers, landowners in the area who might not know what's going on," Ulrich said.

So, Ulrich thinks the project's initiative to help better manage our water could close some of those gaps.

Project leaders say they hope to work closely with farmers to control runoff, and build upon the practices already in place. Leaders stressed Thursday it will take both focus and management over time to be a successful project.

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