Cedar River still endangered
Last year, conservation group American Rivers placed the Cedar River on its list of the 10 most-endangered rivers in the U.S. One year later, a lot still needs to be done to control the river’s flooding and pollution issues.
American Rivers, an organization that selects 10 new rivers each year to raise awareness about, has compiled the list for 26 years. Last year, the Cedar River ranked fifth because of outdated flood management and pollution issues.
While headwaters of the river start in Dodge County, the bulk of the river flows through Iowa. The river 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 to the Mississippi River.
Though American Rivers focused on flood damage in the Cedar Rapids area, officials noted the river had other issues.
Another major problem was high nitrates, particularly in Iowa. Matt Taylor, a technician for the Cedar River Watershed District, has been testing nitrates around Austin. He said north of Austin on the Cedar, the nitrates are high 25 to 50 percent of the times they are tested. Though the CRWD has been planning many river improvements, it has not implemented many of them, as its draft rules are not complete.
Regardless, major improvements to the entire River’s well being may not happen for years. Often, improvements from river projects are hard to determine on a year-to-year basis.
“When you’re dealing with water quality, it’s so hard to compare years because the weather’s different,” Taylor said. He added high water events with a lot of runoff make improvements hard to gauge.
However, American Rivers plans to follow up with progress on the Cedar each year.
The Susquehanna River in the New England area topped this year’s endangered list. The St. Croix River in Minnesota was labeled No. 9 because a highway bridge construction project could roll back national river protections.
— Jason Schoonover contributed to this report.