This week the Iowa Finance Authority awarded nearly $1 million for watershed projects in and around Decorah, including $499,300 for implementation of a new Dry Run Greenbelt Project and another $500,000 to the City of Decorah to implement projects in Dry Run and within the City of Decorah.
The grant awards come on the heels of, and builds on, a $96,000 grant awarded to the City of Decorah by the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, the Decorah Dry Run Watershed Improvement Project. These unique watershed projects will help the City of Decorah and Winneshiek County Conservation Board slow stormwater runoff flowing through the Dry Run Greenbelt and improve water quality.
According to City Engineer Jeremy Bril, “The goal of these projects is to efficiently improve surface and ground water quality, flood resiliency, and hydrologic function in the Dry Run Watershed, Upper Iowa River, and City of Decorah. These grants leverage the city’s stormwater funding, multiplying our contribution and our impact sevenfold.”
According to Stephanie Fromm, WCDT Executive Director, local development personnel met with Iowa Finance Authority Director and Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority Debi Durham in July of 2021 to discuss the potential for the project and subsequently brought together partners, including Northeast Iowa RC&D, the City of Decorah, the WCCB, the Upper Iowa WMA, Winneshiek SWCD, the Upper Iowa Alliance, and Luther College to develop a project application that was submitted in the fall of 2021.
Fromm noted, “Although we were not awarded the total funding we requested in the initial application, that initial discussion and application set the stage for these awards. WCDT also facilitated early meetings and planning for the IDALS grant. We are very pleased with the awards and trust the RC&D to help the partners successfully administrate funding and implement the project to maximize the benefits and outcomes.”
The City of Decorah and Winneshiek County Conservation Board partnered with Winneshiek County Development and Tourism (WCDT) and Northeast Iowa RC&D to develop and submit the applications. RC&D employee Tori Nimrod, who serves as the Upper Iowa River WMA Coordinator, helped complete GIS analysis and cartography for the applications.
“These projects are an important step in making Decorah a more resilient community,’ said Nimrod. “It is the result of collaboration between multiple entities and shows the value of multiple partners working together.”
The funding will help implement strategically located water quality and flood reduction practices on Winneshiek County Conservation Board property in the Dry Run Greenbelt as well as several projects throughout Decorah.
WCCB Executive Director Barb Schroeder noted, “With our recent land acquisitions in the Dry Run Watershed, the WCCB is in a unique position to help Dry Run Watershed landowners and the City of Decorah reduce the extreme flash flooding that is occurring as well as improve water quality. This project expands the benefits of having the Dry Run Greenbelt in public ownership.”