Spotlight on Conservation: Middle Cedar Partnership Project

May 19, 2015

In 2014, the City of Cedar Rapids joined with fifteen other organizations, including soil and water conservation districts, state government departments, commodity groups, university services, private companies, and environmental advocacy groups, to form the Middle Cedar Partnership Project (MCPP), a collaborative effort designed to address water quality in the Middle Cedar watershed.

The Middle Cedar watershed is a 2,417 square mile portion of the larger Cedar River watershed. The Middle Cedar is one of the nine designated priority watersheds under the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, and addressing water quality in the Middle Cedar is a priority at both the state and local levels.

After experiencing devastating flooding, the City of Cedar Rapids understands the need to prevent flooding and improve water quality and quantity. More than 70 percent of the drinking water produced by the Cedar Rapids Water Treatment facilities goes to large industrial users, like PepsiCo, Cargill, and General Mills. Without the ability to provide safe, high-quality water for industrial and residential consumers, Cedar Rapids would experience a devastating economic ripple effect.

For that reason, members of the MCPP have committed to collaborating with both downstream water users and upstream agriculture to improve water quality and reduce nitrates. To do this, conservation practices like nutrient management, cover crops, bioreactors, saturated buffers, wetland creation, and wetland easements will be employed. To enhance adoption rates of these practices, the MCPP will reach out to educate producers about the benefits of less widely adopted practices that hold significant promise for nutrient reduction.

Partnerships like the MCPP bring together public and private, urban and rural, environmental and agricultural stakeholders in order to truly make progress. The Iowa Partnership for Clean Water applauds this type of voluntary, collaborative effort.

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