Watershed draws comments
NORTH ENGLISH—A public meeting was held Tuesday evening about the proposed English River Watershed Management.
Kalona city administrator Ryan Schlabaugh said the city of Kalona has undertaken the idea of forming a watershed authority because there was a need for it.
“Why now?” Schlabaugh said. “Why are we doing this?”
He said the City of Kalona has fixed some of the flooding issues. However, it would take a bigger group of farmers, residents, counties, and communities to offset the causes of flooding along the English River.
Schlabaugh also brought up what the 28E agreement would help do, which is an intergovernmental contract that is formed when counties and cities work together.
“Between Jodi [Bailey, Kalona’s city planner] and I, this can’t be our project,” he said. “This can’t be our document. We need input. We need help and assistance that will help move us forward.”
Schlabaugh handed out a rough draft of a 28E agreement he had Kalona’s city attorney write up. Anyone within the boundaries and the area of the English River watershed had a right to become a member of the group.
In the proposed agreement the main function of the group would be to assess flood risks, water quality and options for reducing flood risks, and to monitor federal flood risk planning and activities.
There would be of five to seven board members. The members of the watershed group would appoint each board member to the board, the rough draft said. There would be officer positions available such as secretary, vice-president, and president, which would be held for a year.
Tony Maxwell from Washington, who is the district conservationist from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), spoke about what his group would do to help with flood mitigation and water quality practices in the watershed.
The NCRS assists farmers in the state.
“Really everything we do, everything we talk about with farmers, has some sort of positive impact,” Maxwell said, “from talking to a farmer about no-tilling his crops that’s going to allow more water to soak in and less water to run off.”
Planting cover crops, building terraces and having wetlands would also help slow the water down and help prevent flooding, he said.
Maxwell also spoke about his history of dealing with watershed groups.
“I’ve been part of lots of watershed projects,” he said. “There’s good ones and there’s bad ones. The bad ones are developed by people like me, who have an idea that we should be doing this, and then wonder why no one wants to do what I say. The best watershed projects are the ones that have buy-in from the people who live and work in the watershed.”
He said what it really takes to be successful is having a group of landowners, and farmers who are wanting to do something and willing to do something. Maxwell used the Lake Darling project in Washington County as an example.
“It was not a flooding problem but an erosion problem,” he said. “The lake was filling up full of dirt. If I remember correctly it’s a 300-acre lake and over the 60 years it’s been there, 30 acres, 10 percent of it, was gone. It was full of silt.”
The project was designed to prevent that from happening again, Maxwell said. Dams, terraces and ponds were put in to help prevent that from happening again.
“I think we’ve done a good job of that,” he said. “It was a good watershed project because the farmers wanted it.”
Washington County supervisor Jack Seward Jr. attended Tuesday’s meeting and another meeting that was held a month before.
“I thought the meeting was very informative,” he said. “I’m learning a lot about 28E agreements.”