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Mitchell County, Osage join Upper Cedar Watershed Management Improvement Authority

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 04/25/2013 7:05 PM

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CHARLES CITY, Iowa —The Upper Watershed Management Improvement Authority connected the final dots when it welcomed Mitchell County and Osage at its April 3 meeting.

The Mitchell County Board of Supervisors and the Osage City Council agreed to join the 28E agreement that created the WMIA the day before.

The effort is designed to mitigate flood risk in northern Iowa.

The other entities in the WMIA areBlack Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Chickasaw, Floyd and Worth counties; Charles City, Colwell, Denver, Floyd, Nashua, Northwood, Plainfield, St. Ansgar, Stacyville and Waverly; and Soil and Water Conservation Districts in all the counties including Mitchell.

Mitchell County Supervisor Stan Walk will represent Mitchell County and Rick Bodensteiner will represent Osage on the Upper Cedar WMIA board.

The Upper Cedar board has agreed to change its 28E agreement to include the new entities. Current entities must individually approve the change.

Walk invited Larry Weber, director of the University of Iowa's Hydroscience and Engineering, the parent organization of the Iowa Flood Center, to talk with the Mitchell County Supervisorsabout joining the WMIA.

Upper Cedar WMIA Board chairman Mark Kuhn was also invited as were members of the Mitchell Soil and Water Conservation District.

"I addressed the supervisors about the overall direction the state is going with watersheds and watershed planning, the importance of watershed management authorities and how funding is being directed to groups that are organized," Weber said. "The supervisors were not only able to hear an Upper Cedar perspective but how well WMIAs are working in Turkey, Middle Raccoon, Soap and Chequest Creek and Indian Creek. If you are an early WMIA, you are in a strategic position to attract funds."

Weber said the Upper Cedar River WMIA attracted $1.5 million for the Iowa Watersheds Project, which is coordinated by his center. The funding will target one HUC 12 subwatershed to plan and construct watershed improvement projects.

"Having Mitchell County and Osage participating will be hugely important as the WMIA applies for funding to develop a watershed plan from the Iowa Economic Development Authority," Weber said.

The largest county in the watershed, nearly all of Mitchell County's acres are in the watershed.

"I'm very pleased to consider membership of Mitchell County and Osage," said Kuhn. "We'll be 25 members strong instead of 23."

The Upper Cedar WMIA board also approved an executive committee recommendation for the HUC 12 watershed selection process and proposal deadline.

Project proposals must be submitted by May 15, which is when the executive committee will meet with the Iowa Flood Center to hear presentations and score them. The decision will be presented to the full board at its annual meeting where final approval will be given.

"We want these proposals to be as close to shovel ready as possible," said Sherman Lundy, board vice chair from Black Hawk County.

The May 15 meeting, which will begin at 1 p.m. in the Charles City Library, is open to anyone, and board member input is welcomed, Kuhn said. The annual meeting will be at 6 p.m. May 29 in the library.

"It's taken five years to get from the 2008 floods to the point that we have a watershed management authority, and I want to congratulate all of you," Kuhn said. "We're doing what the Legislature envisioned. We joined together to do good for everyone in the watershed. We're all in this together, we're building momentum and we'll all bear fruit from this down the road."