TRIPOLI — The Iowa Watershed Approach has a vision for a more resilient Iowa.
And a series of new weather stations across the state is helping it achieve that vision.
The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Center in Tripoli held its Bremer County Field Day, an event to capitalize on the arrival of new flood prevention technology, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The event featured four presentations by Kate Giannini of Iowa Flood Center, Kip Ladage of Bremer County Emergency Management, Upper Wapsipinicon Watershed Coordinator Angie Auel and Rob Lenth of Bremer County Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
According to Giannini, the IFC was founded at the University of Iowa in 2009 by Larry Weber and Witold Krajewski after the floods of 2008 devastated much of the state. Much of the data the IFC collects is published for public consumption, posted online and updated every 15 minutes.
The Iowa Watershed Approach, a new project that aims to reduce flooding and improve water quality by working in nine different watersheds, was born from a previous project, the Iowa Watershed Project, which ran from 2010 to 2016.
According to the National Ocean Service, a watershed is “a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays and the ocean.”
The IWA received $97 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the project.
“It’s about community building and working with different partnerships and implementing conservation practices in the end to build those relationships,” said Giannini. “As we start to see conservation practices implemented, typically neighbors will start seeing their neighbors implement the practices and we see the interest go up. We are excited about how the community will build on that.”
Following the presentations, audience members and speakers visited a nearby farm where a state-of-the-art weather station has been placed in a cornfield and will stay until September 2021.
The new weather station allows for better flood prediction, water management and drought assessment.
It is one of 50 stations throughout the state, and 20 new ones placed since the founding of the Iowa Watershed Approach. The goal is to have one in every county by the end of the project. Each weather station costs $8,000 and about $2,000 more for maintenance.
All of the information collected is uploaded to the Iowa Flood Information System, all available to the public.
Giannini dedicated her life to conservation efforts, something she is passionate about.
“It’s about future generations and making sure that my kids and their kids can enjoy our resources in Iowa and be able to recreate here and have safe drinking water,” Giannini said.