Maquoketa WMA requests county’s participation

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     During the Dec. 13 Jones County Supervisor meeting, the board heard a report from Monticello City Administrator Doug Herman on the Maquoketa Watershed Authority (WMA). Herman’s presentation ended with requesting the county consider participating in a 28E agreement regarding the watershed authority.

     Those government entities that are already a part of the 28E includes: Monticello, Manchester, Delhi, Lake Delhi and Delaware County. Herman said he plans to meet with the City of Onslow and the Jones Soil & Water Conservation District.

     The Maquoketa Watershed is comprised of those cities and counties along the Maquoketa River.

     The state passed a law in 2010 that allows for the existence of watershed authorities. He said there is no financial cost to the county to be part of the 28E agreement, nor any risk.

     The WMA would address water resource and quality issues, develop partnerships to leverage and combine resources, nurture urban-rural partnerships, and use power in numbers to obtain grants and other resources for various projects.

     Primary areas of impact within the WMA include: water quality, flooding, recreation, soil erosion, habitat, and source water protection.

     Herman said if more entities join the 28E, the better off the WMA would be in the end, versus trying to leverage resources and funding with only a few members.

     While the board didn’t see a negative effect to joining the WMA, they felt the need to hold off with formal approval until County Attorney Phil Parsons offers his thoughts on the matter.

     Herman should the county decide to join, the next steps would include putting together a watershed management plan, which would require funding. He said there are grants the WMA could go after for this project. Herman said at the beginning of the year, that state funding would become available, used to possibly hire staff to help put the WMA plan together.

     “We have until mid-January to file the 28E with the state,” he said. “We must be filed in order to be eligible for state funds to put the plan together.” Herman said the earlier they file the better because only newly created WMA are eligible for funding.

     “It’s a competitive market,” said Herman.

     Then, certain goals would have to be identified, for the watershed as a whole, as well as for the different entities within the region.

     Herman informed the board that several regional groups are also assisting with the formation of the WMA: Limestone Bluffs RC&D, IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).

     He said the WMA would create a board of directors from each governmental entity who joins the 28E. This board would adopt by-laws, with one vote per member of the WMA.

     The WMA would not possess any funds, nor have a budget in which to work from. Herman said, though, they could apply for and receive grants.

     “We would send project funding requests to the board of supervisors,” Herman explained, “and you can approve those or not.” He added that only funding requests would be made for those projects that affect Jones County.

     Right now, there are specific projects in mind.

     Brenda Leonard, Jones County Emergency Management, commented that she didn’t see how joining the WMA could hurt anything.

     “Anything we can do to assist with flooding and water quality is a plus,” she said.

     “If it sounds like there is some potential good,” urged Herman, “I would join. The plan would be a valuable tool.”

In other county business:

     • The board appointed Rose Rohr and Pauline Antons to the Limestone Bluffs RC&D Regional Cultural Council. The appointees will represent Jones County.

     • The board approved the 2016 Ordinance Codification.

     County Auditor said the board adopted 11 ordinances in 2016. This action brings those ordnances into the county code.

     • The board heard from Tracey Achenbach with the East Central Iowa Housing Trust Fund. Achenbach asked the board to consider allocating $1,555 to help fund the housing program’s 2018 programming.

     Since its start in 2011, ECIHTF has assisted 53 households, and provided over $304,000 in funding for various projects.


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