DES MOINES — The state of Iowa has won a large grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve water quality.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says the federal funds will be used to construct wetlands. “This grant is just over a million dollars,” Naig says. “It’s going to be targeted on some counties in eastern Iowa, around the Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls and Waterloo areas. But, the things that we learn by doing those projects are things that we will be able to apply in other parts of the state.”

Naig says building these wetlands is a key piece toward implementing Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. It’s a science and technology-based framework meant to assess and reduce nutrients in Iowa’s waterways and in the Gulf of Mexico.
“As we look to implement Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, we need to build more of these wetlands, and this will help us do that,” Naig says.

The projects are working to link Iowa’s diverse population bases. “We are connecting the dots between the urban areas and rural areas. So, it’s cities and rural communities working together,” Naig says. “We like that approach and we think it’ll have applications across the state. So, while these are focused in eastern Iowa, we’re going to be learning things that we will be applying across the state.”

The state ag department is talking with landowners and hopes to break ground on the wetlands projects next year.