Cedar River named fifth most endangered river

Published 6:39 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

One of Mower County’s most prominent waterways was recently named one of the most endangered rivers in the country.

Due to poor flood management, the Cedar River was named the fifth most endangered river in the U.S. in a report recently released by conservation group American Rivers.

“Outdated flood management and poor watershed planning are impacting public health and safety by causing pollution and increasing the risk of flood damage,” the report states.

The river is a critical habitat for fish, wildlife, and wildlife enthusiasts, and the report suggests the Iowa Legislature work with the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize flood management practices.

While headwaters of the river starts are in Dodge County, the bulk of the river flows through Iowa. The river then runs south of Hayfield through Udulpho and Lansing townships and then into Austin, where Turtle and Dobbins creeks join the river. In Columbus Junction, Iowa, the Cedar connects to the Iowa River, and eventually connects to the Mississippi River.

The Cedar River Watershed District was formed in May of 2007 to address flooding issues and improve water quality along the river in Minnesota. While the report addresses the Cedar in Iowa, Administrator Bev Nordby said the practices of the watershed district in Minnesota will carry on down the line.

“What we do up here affects them down there, and so being positive on what we do will help them,” Nordby said.

Nordby expects the watershed district to work closely with Iowa officials on projects in the future. However, that process is still in the early stages, as the watershed is required to write rules and have a plan before it can implement rules.

“There’s a lot things we need to before we can hit the ground running,” said Administrator Bev Nordby.

The watershed district is also seeking funding for projects from the federal government and other organizations.

Changes to the land along the Cedar River has played a part in the flooding. Nordby said there are fewer pastures and more crop land along the river, and the landscape in the urban areas has changed too.

The Upper Delaware River in New York and Pennsylvania topped the list because natural gas extraction is threatening drinking water to 17 million people.