The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) has received the 2021 Project of the Year Award from the Iowa Floodplain and Stormwater Management Association (IFSMA). The award was announced during the IFSMA Fall Conference in October.

The Iowa Watershed Approach is recognized for its collaborative approach in bringing over $100 million to the state of Iowa to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and develop equitable strategies to increase community resilience to water resource challenges. The program brings together local, state, and federal partners, as well as private contractors and non-profits, to develop long-term watershed management goals and guide strategic conservation practice implementation efforts.

A group tours a pond installed east of Riverton in the East Nishnabotna Watershed. Photo by JEO Consulting Group and Golden Hills RC&D

The IWA works progressively with agriculture and landowners to identify priority areas in select watersheds to implement flood mitigation practices such as ponds, terraces, and wetlands that work to restore the landscape’s natural resiliency to heavy rainfall. Participating landowners receive up to 90 percent cost-share assistance to implement practices. The dual program also focuses on community flood resilience programming and helps to protect vulnerable populations from flooding. As the project comes to an end, nearly 800 conservation practices will have been installed with over $30 million directed towards conservation.

The adaptive framework of the IWA has transformed integrated watershed management in Iowa, and beyond. The success of the IWA depends on collaborative partnerships among many statewide organizations and local stakeholders who together carry out the work necessary to achieve the IWA goals. The award was presented to the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa in recognition of IWA Principal Investigator Larry Weber’s leadership and vision that has guided the program to success. Congratulations to the many, many partners who have contributed to the achievements of the Iowa Watershed Approach!