An effort to improve water quality and decrease flood risks on the Cedar River will “ramp up” this year.
Cedar Rapids Utilities Director Steve Hershner made the announcement Tuesday at a water quality discussion.
The quality of Cedar Rapids' drinking water is influenced by nutrient levels in the Cedar River.
That is why the city is working with upstream farmers and conservation groups under the Middle Cedar Partnership Project. It provides financial and technical assistance for water quality projects in five watersheds that feed into the Cedar River.
Hershner said the project has helped farmers implement cover crops on about 3,000 to 4,000 acres of farmland.
"And we think this year we’re going to approach 19,000 acres or more as we look ahead to 2017, this next growing season," Hershner said. "So we’re very excited to look at that significant increase.”
The project is also helping farmers implement nutrient management, saturated buffers, bioreactors and wetlands. Some of these methods can decrease the amount of water entering the watershed, which can also reduce flooding.
Hershner said the partnership between urban water users and upstream farmers has received a lot of positive feedback from participants.