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Storm Lake to Partner With Farmers on Water Quality Goals

December 11, 2020 10:41am

Storm Lake has reached an innovative agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that allows an investment in conservation practices on farms to improve water quality, and help the city's water treatment plant meet state water quality goals.

Storm Lake became Iowas third community to sign such an agreement. Dubuque and Cedar Rapids reached similar agreements earlier this year.

Sand County Foundation, a national agricultural conservation non-profit, worked closely with these municipalities and the Iowa DNR to develop a model agreement that incentivizes cities and farmers within the same watersheds to address water quality together. These first agreements are providing a road map for Iowa cities to address state water quality requirements.

The Storm Lake agreement allows the city to invest in practices such as cover crops on farms in the North Raccoon River watershed, to improve water quality, and reduce the risk of flooding.

"This agreement allows us to focus our resources on the best practices to reduce excess nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus, in the water as well as to reduce flooding in our community," said Storm Lake City Manager Keri Navratil.  "The health of Storm Lake is vitally important to our community members and continued growth as a city. The work that has been done has aided in the clarity and sustainability of the lake" Navratil added.

The state requires Storm Lake and about 100 other communities to reduce nitrogen levels by 66-percent and phosphorus levels by 75-percent at their wastewater treatment plants. Timetables to accomplish this varies by community.