Just Receives $1.1M EPA Grant for Water Quality
by Ashley Murdie, EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced three EPA Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements totaling more than $3.15 million to fund Iowa-based projects that improve water quality, habitat, and environmental education. IIHR’s Craig Just received $1.1 million from the EPA for research on flood reduction and water quality in the Middle Cedar and Clear Creek watersheds, in support of the Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA). His project, titled “Connecting Rural and Peri-Urban Farmers to Demonstrate and Disseminate Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Practices,” focuses on the Clear Creek Watershed and the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm. Just received the award at a ceremony at the Iowa State Fair. He is also a research engineer at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering and a faculty member in the University of Iowa College of Engineering.
“The College of Engineering, Iowa Flood Center, and IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa are excited to partner with rural farmers and urban consumers in Johnson and Iowa counties to demonstrate innovative nutrient and sediment reduction practices in Iowa,” said University of Iowa Vice President for Research Marty Scholtz. “This grant recognizes the university’s national leadership in water research. The $1.07 million from EPA will leverage watershed restoration funds from the $97 million Iowa Watershed Approach project to create measurable water quality improvements in stream segments within the Lower Iowa River watershed.”
Just also leads the IWA Flood Resilience Team, which seeks to provide value to Iowa’s watershed communities through partnerships to develop the tools to measure and visualize flood resilience in ways that make future mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery planning actions more meaningful and useful. Together, he says, we can make our watershed communities more flood resilient.
A ceremony honoring the Iowa recipients took place at the Iowa State Fair. EPA anticipates awarding seven Gulf of Mexico Division cooperative agreements totaling more than $7.5 million to fund projects that improve water quality, habitat, and environmental education in the Gulf watershed.
Since 2018, approximately $9.5 million has been awarded to support novel or innovative agricultural techniques, methods or approaches through EPA’s Farmer to Farmer Cooperative Agreements. These projects support farmer-led and/or farmer-focused organizations with experience implementing programs and demonstration projects through collaboration with farmers. The projects will center around innovative monitoring systems that will measure and report field-scale water and nutrient dynamics to farmers in support of informed crop management decisions. The program supports science and technology-based water quality initiatives needed to protect watersheds while also maintaining a vital agricultural economy.
The Clean Water Act provides authority and resources that are essential to protecting water quality in the Gulf of Mexico and larger Mississippi River Basin. EPA’s regional offices and the Gulf of Mexico Division work with states to continue to maximize the efficiency and utility of water quality monitoring efforts for local managers by coordinating and standardizing state and federal water quality data collection activities in the Gulf region. Enhanced monitoring and research are needed in the Gulf Coast region to make data more readily available.