Open house planned for watershed
WILLIAMSBURG—The English River Watershed Management Authority (ERWMA) is having an open house tonight at the Williamsburg Public Library.
The open house will begin at 6:30 p.m., said ERWMA chairman Ryan Schlabaugh. Representatives from the Iowa Flood Center, the Iowa Soybean Association, and the English River Watershed Management Authority will be at the open house.
“This will be kind of a ‘catch up’ for people and will give people a chance to ask questions,” Schlabaugh said.
Jody Bailey, secretary for ERWMA, was hired by the City of Kalona to begin the process of forming ERWMA in April 2013. The ERWMA became an official group about seven months ago.
“Overall, it’s been really exciting,” Bailey said. “We’re only 7 months old and have gotten a lot of things done, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Right now Bailey is researching the effects of flooding along the English River and what the soil and water quality are like.
“We’ll probably be working on the research stage until November,” Bailey said. “The Iowa Flood Center is working on mapping out the area and the Iowa Soybean Association is working on what conservation projects could be done to help with soil conservation.”
According to the English River Watershed Management Authority’s Web site, the English River Watershed covers 627 miles of land in Johnson, Iowa, Mahaska, Poweshiek, Keokuk, and Washington counties.
Currently, there are six municipalities listed as members on the Web site and two counties listed as members, including Washington County. Bailey said she would like to see more people become involved.
“This is part of the reason why we’re having the open house tonight,” she said. “There are still some entities not at the table that could be. We’ve got about half of them involved. There’s a lot of misconception out there about what watershed management authorities do in the state of Iowa and I would like to tell people we’re a collaborative organization. We’re not going to come in and take your land. Our primary goal is to bring resources and education to the table and my hope is that people who aren’t at the table decide to join and become a part of the table.”
Schlabaugh agrees with Bailey about having more people involved.
“What we need right now are partners,” he said. “If we have more partners this will help us with grants at the state and federal level in the future.”