Watershed improvement project can educate many

Polk and Boone County District Conservationists Zach DeYoung and Sean McCoy are working together with their partners and stakeholders to improve water quality in the Big Creek Lake Watershed. The watershed includes Big Creek Lake, just north of Polk City and Saylorville Lake.

They began a quarterly newsletter about the project’s progress last January. The short newsletters contain information of happenings in their watershed. The latest issue describes how much sediment has come into the lake over the last 20 years.  “A watershed assessment has shown that the average soil loss within the watershed is 4 tons per acre. This means around 7,214 tons of sediment is entering the lake each year. That is equivalent to 721 dump trucks unloading into the lake every year or 360,000 bags of soil from your local store. At $5 per bag that equates to nearly $2 million a year in good top soil being lost into Big Creek Lake by watershed landowners each year.”

Can you visualize the pallets of topsoil bags in the parking lot of  your local store? That’s a lot of bags.

The  issue also features an interesting story on blue-green algae, shown below (the photo is from the newsletter).


There are several watershed improvement projects in Iowa with the same issues at Big Creek Lake. These groups may benefit by seeing what others are doing in the water clean up effort. The Big Creek Lake Watershed Project’s website contains information about the watershed and what they are doing to mitigate the problems. Check it out to see how this group is bringing awareness and change to their watershed: http://bigcreeklake.org/.

Iowa Learning Farms was part of their successful Watershed Appreciation Day last summer. ILF has also helped other watershed improvement projects, offering idea proposals to help bring about awareness. These proposals serve as examples for other watersheds looking for ways to reach their residents. See the ILF website’s resource page for “Watershed-based Community Assessments.” This section includes samples of the citizen awareness campaigns and the contains a “toolkit” that can help watershed project coordinators reach their residents:  Iowa Learning Farms.

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