Austin pairs with Iowa to improve Cedar River

Published 8:04 am Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Improving the state of one of the most endangered rivers in the country brought leaders from two states together in Austin last week to swap ideas.

Cedar River Watershed District (CRWD) leaders and state Sen. Dan Sparks met last Thursday with officials from Iowa’s Ceder River Watershed Coalition to discuss ways to improve the Cedar River’s water quality and prevent flooding.

The conservation group American Rivers recently named the Cedar River the fifth most endangered river in the country due to outdated flood management and poor watershed planning. The two groups are looking to address those issues in the future.

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“We should be working together because all the water flows south,” said CRWD administrator Bev Nordby.

“We don’t work together enough with our neighbors,” she added.

The two groups have been looking for ways to address the river’s issues long before the American Rivers report, and efforts date back to 2008’s major flooding on the river.

According to Nordby, Iowa doesn’t currently have a watershed system like Minnesota, but Iowa’s Cedar River Watershed Coalition was recently formed to address flooding and water quality issues on the river.

CRWD officials spoke with the Iowa coalition, and Iowa’s Rep. Rob Hogg, District 38, and state Sen. Joe Bolkcom, about how the CRWD operates and how it formed.

“We learned a lot from them, but then in turn they learned a lot from us,” Nordby said.

The CRWD and coalition officials plan to continue meeting to discuss their efforts, and Nordby said CRWD officials plan to attend the next coalition meeting scheduled for September in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“It started a really good partnership,” Nordby said.