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Farmers, communities work together to improve water

Iowa farmers and many Iowa municipal utilities are working together to reduce the amount of nutrients in Iowa rivers, streams and groundwater that provide Iowans drinking water, farm and utilities officials said last week.

Farmers are reworking their traditional cropping patterns to add cover crops. They are refining fertilization programs to reduce the potential for nutrient loss. And they are adopting conservation tillage practices as they work to improve the quality of water leaving their fields.

At the same time, many Iowa municipalities are working with farmers to install bioreactors, wetlands and other permanent structures to reduce the amount of nitrogen and other nutrients that reach municipal water sources and must be filtered out.

"We have had very good buy-in on water quality programs from farmers in our area, and that’s helping us reach our water quality goals," said John Glenn, CEO of Rathbun Regional Water Association in southeast Iowa. "The farmers we work with are very engaged in the process. They want to help find solutions to water quality issues and implement them."

Farmers in the Rathbun Lake watershed have installed terraces, buffer strips and other practices,...




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