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Taking the next step for improving the Squaw Creek Watershed

The Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority involves a team of people from large and small communities, rural and urban areas in the counties of Boone, Story, Hamilton and Webster that share an interest in Squaw Creek. There has been a great deal of work conducted over the past 10 years in this watershed, culminating in the formation of the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority (SWMA).

Paul Toot, Story County supervisor and chair of the SWMA said, “Based on feedback we’ve received from public surveys, there is a definite interest in improving the quality of Squaw Creek and its tributaries. With financial support from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the time has come to develop a comprehensive watershed management plan to provide guidance for watershed activities over the next 20 years.”

The SWMA was created in 2012. The next step is to create a management plan. Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. (EOR) from Oakdale, Minn., was hired to facilitate the planning process.

Pat Conrad, EOR Water Resources Specialist, will oversee the project planning effort.

The first step of the planning effort is to conduct an assessment of the watershed and its waters.

Protecting water is not a new concept, but watershed management is a new approach for Iowa. The planning process will take about one year and it will address extreme variations in flow, erosion and sedimentation, elevated nutrients levels (nitrate and phosphate), loss of biodiversity, elevated “coliform” bacteria levels and trash in the watershed.

As the planning process proceeds, there will be an effort to engage different personal and public interest in the watershed. Penny Brown Huber, executive director of Prairie Rivers of Iowa and a subconsultant on the project says, “Our focus in the planning project will be to engage and educate the public about the watershed. We want to hear from all the residents in our watershed in order to create a plan that will lead us over time to make improvements in water quality, while we address flooding and water quantity issues. ”

Those serving on the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority include:

Paul Toot, chair and Story County supervisor; Tom Foster, Boone County supervisor; Kevin Griggs, Boone County Soil & Water Conservation District; Ames Mayor Ann Campbell; Bob Kindred, Ames assistant city manager; Erv Klaas, Story County Soil & Water Conservation District; Rachel Cahill, Stratford city manager; Leah Maass, Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District and Gilbert Mayor Jonathan Popp.

For more information on the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority and this project, contact Leanne Harter, Story County Planning and Development, at lharter@storycounty.com

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