The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance held their 2nd Annual Farm to Faucet Landowner Appreciation and Water Treatment Plant Tour on Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Rathbun Regional Water Association Water Treatment Plant.
The Farm to Faucet event provides the opportunity to highlight the soil saving and water quality protection practices installed on the farmers’ land who work with the Alliance. It also gives the landowners the opportunity to tour the facility that treats the water that comes from the lake they help protect.
Nearly 600 landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe and Wayne have worked or are working to protect Rathbun Lake through the installation of conservation practices.
In order to accommodate the large number of landowners, the Alliance invites only a portion of the farmers within the 354,000-acre watershed but will continue to invite landowners during subsequent years until all landowners have had the opportunity to attend.
Since the Alliance began working with watershed farmers in 2004, nearly two million feet of terraces have been installed as well as 650 grade stabilization structures, and sediment and debris basins.
Following opening remarks by Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Kurt Simon, four landowners were honored as 2017 Rathbun Lake Protectors. Each year, the Alliance invites the six watershed Soil and Water Conservation Districts to nominate landowners for their outstanding contributions to the protection of Rathbun Lake. Nominations are based on past efforts as well as present and planned actions to protect water quality.
John Glenn, Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President and Rathburn Rural Water Association (RRWA) CEO, presented Virginia Reynolds of Weldon with the 2017 Rathbun Lake Protector Award. The Clarke County Soil and Water Conservation District nominated Virginia and her late husband Larry.
Glenn said the award was given due to the numerous conservation practices utilized by the Reynolds’ over the years to control the erosion on their Clarke County farm.
“They were among the first farmers in the county to no-till and have always kept part of the farm seeded to hay and pasture to support their cattle operation. However, heavy rains that fell on the farm in recent years caused some erosion that concerned Virginia so she decided to inquire about terraces through the Rathbun Project,” said Glenn.
“She was able to secure funding to install 3,070 feet of terraces and water and sediment control basins, to protect the part of the farm that had the most severe erosion,” he added.
Additional practices that they utilized include grassed waterways, grade stabilization structure, and field borders. Virginia’s farm is located in the Upper Chariton Creek near Weldon in Clarke County.
The contaminants that no longer reach Rathbun Lake on an annual basis due to the conservation practices installed by Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners are 53,380 tons of sediment and 232,027 pounds of phosphorus.
Alliance members and partners have provided significant financial and technical support for the organization’s efforts. In the last dozen years, more than $32 million in financial support has been contributed to the protection of Rathbun Lake water quality.
In addition to keeping the soil on the farm, the practices protect Rathbun Lake, the water source for RRWA that provides drinking water to 80,000 people in southern Iowa.
Those in attendance broke into groups and toured RRWA’s new water treatment plant.
Since 2007, RRWA has invested $40 million in improvements to the Association’s
drinking water system which includes the new water treatment plant.
The first water treatment facility was built in 1975 and supplied drinking water to four counties. The utility has seen steady growth and now provides clean drinking water to 18 counties and 51 communities in southern Iowa and northern Missouri.
The capacity of RRWA’s first water treatment facility was four million gallons per day (MGD). An expansion in 2000 increased daily capacity to 8.8 million gallons and the new plant’s capacity is six MGD but is designed to allow for expansion to nine MGD.
For more information about the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, visit rlwa.org.
2017 Rathbun Lake Protectors were honored at the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance’s “2nd Annual Farm to Faucet Landowner Appreciation and Water Treatment Plant Tour” held at Rathbun Regional Water Association’s new water treatment plant. Pictured L-R: Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President and RRWA CEO, John Glenn; Dave and Pam Teno of Melrose, land operators for Rathbun Lake Protector, Joe Parenza II of Arizona; Wayne County Protector David Murrow; Appanoose County Protectors Lorena and Keith Lain, and Clarke County Protector, Virginia Reynolds.