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Formation of a Watershed Management Authority

The Fourmile Creek Watershed spans approximately 119-square miles in portions of Polk, Boone, and Story Counties in central Iowa. Throughout this vast region, urbanization is occurring at a rapid rate. This increase in developed land has intensified flooding, erosion control, and water quality issues surrounding Fourmile Creek. In 2012, local communities teamed with the engineering and environmental professionals from Snyder & Associates to form one of the first watershed management authorities in the stateFourmile Creek Watershed Management Authority (FCWMA) — to better address these serious problems.

Comprised of public and private representatives from each community in the watershed, as well as officials from each county’s soil and water conservation district offices, the FCWMA was established to protect and enhance water quality in the watershed by merging their varied resources and individual interests to accomplish a common goal.

Developing a Sound Watershed Management Plan

Shortly after the FCWMA’s founding, the group received a Watershed Planning Grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) to aid in its development. With these added funds, the authority worked to create a watershed management plan that outlined a series of goals to reduce flooding and improve water quality.

The first step in this process included the compilation of a detailed watershed assessment. The Snyder & Associates team provided data they gathered from extensive hydraulic and hydrologic modeling and prepared recommendations for flood reduction, rural and urban land planning management and development, stormwater detention, and stream corridor restoration. Equipped with this information, along with input from rural and urban residents, local leaders, and environmental agencies, the Fourmile Watershed Management Plan was assembled.

group watching a powerpoint presentation

WMA members attend a group meeting to discuss goals and objectives.

Using that plan as a guide, the FCWMA team has completed a great deal of work in the intervening years. This includes extensive floodplain modeling and most recently, a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) for the City of Slater. This plan continues to strengthen the partnership between rural and urban residents and helps provide improvements to the surrounding communities.

City and county leaders have been incredibly proud of the work that’s been performed as a result of the FCWMA formation. The numerous jurisdictions impacted by the watershed have been completely engaged with the process, enabling multiple initiatives to move forward. Several members envision the FCWMA’s progress to stand as an example for similar watersheds around the state and the country.

Environmental Excellence Award Recognizes Program Success

A short three years after its formation, the FCWMA was a recipient of the Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Award for implementing viable environmental improvements on Fourmile Creek. Presented annually by the current Governor, this award is given to a handful of Iowa businesses and government institutions for efforts made to adopt environmentally sustainable strategies that advance the preservation of the state’s natural resources. It also serves to recognize the contributions made by the authority’s members.

Construction progress on the restoration of Four Mile Creek.

WMA members, local officials, landowners, and community staff review on-site work at Fourmile Creek.

The Fourmile Creek Watershed Management Authority involves a team of individuals from several walks of life — large and small communities, rural and urban areas, public and private organizations. However, they all share a common interest in the Fourmile Creek Watershed. Thanks to the efforts of this group, several sustainable initiatives have been implemented and will continue to be implemented, to improve water quality and flood reduction in this vast and treasured resource.

View the complete report.

Read more details on the Governor’s Iowa Environmental Excellence Awards. The awards are sponsored by the Governor’s Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resourcesthe Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardshipthe Iowa Department of Economic Developmentthe Iowa Department of Educationthe Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.