David Bear of Weldon was honored Sept. 20 at the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance’s “Farm to Faucet Landowner Appreciation and Water Treatment Tour” held at the Rathbun Regional Water Association’s new water treatment plant near Centerville.
Bear was selected as Clarke County’s 2018 Rathbun Lake Protector, and was nominated by the Clarke County Soil and Water Conservation District. The Rathbun Lake Protector Program annually recognizes landowners for their conservation practices – past, present and planned – that protect Rathbun Lake.
Bear, who farms with his father Terry Bear, recently installed 3,005 feet of terraces. In presenting the award, RLWA President John Glenn, said Bear’s conservation practices include no-till, grassed waterways and grade stabilization structures.
“David also operates a construction business building terraces, farm ponds and water and sediment basins in the watershed,” said Glenn.
Also receiving the Rathbun Lake Protector Award for Appanoose County were Arvin and Laura Vos of Pella/operator, Douglas Ballenger, and for Lucas County, Troy Lust of Humeston.
The Honorary Rathbun Lake Protector Award recognizes the significant contribution to the overall success of the Alliance’s lake protection activities by those in leadership roles and was presented to four individuals: Joe Sellers, retired ISU Extension Beef Specialist; Bill Ehm, retired Iowa Department of Natural Resources Environmental Services Division Director; Jim Gillespie, retired Director of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality; and Chuck Gipp, retired Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director.
The purpose of the “Farm to Faucet” event is to highlight the soil saving and water quality protection practices installed on the farmers’ land who work with the alliance and to give them an opportunity to tour the facility that treats the water that comes from the lake they help protect.
More than 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.
Glenn explained since the alliance began working with watershed farmers in 2004, nearly 2 million feet of terraces have been installed as well as 718 structures, which are commonly referred to as ponds.
“The contaminants that no longer reach Rathbun Lake due to the action of these landowners is staggering,” Glenn said. “These and other conservation practices installed by landowners prevent 56,754 tons of sediment and 246,011 pounds of phosphorus from entering Rathbun Lake each year.”
Since 2004, alliance members and partners have provided significant financial and technical support for the organization’s efforts. Nearly $34 million in financial support has been contributed to the protection of Rathbun Lake water quality. These soil saving practices also protect the water quality of Rathbun Lake, the water source for RRWA that provides drinking water to 90,000 people in southern Iowa.
Event participants also had the opportunity to tour the association’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, one of which was Lucas County. The utility has seen steady growth and now provides clean drinking water to 18 counties and 55 communities in southern Iowa and northern Missouri.
Bruce Trautman, acting director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, was on hand to provide opening remarks. The event was also attended by Congressman Dave Loebsack who spoke briefly to those in attendance.
For more information about the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, visit rlwa.org.