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DSM to Add 51 Water Quality Practices Thanks to Central Iowa Blitz Project

Central Iowa Blitz Project

June 1, 2021

Construction will begin on phase one of the Central Iowa Blitz Project this month. The project, a partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Polk County Board of Supervisors, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, will protect water quality and help support activities like the Central Iowa Water Trails in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Through the Central Iowa Blitz, 40 saturated buffers and 11 bioreactors will be added to farm fields in Polk and Dallas counties. Phase one should be complete by mid-2022, and sites are already being surveyed for phase two of the project.


Because of several public and private conservation partners working together to leverage financial and technical resources, the Central Iowa Blitz Project can complete construction at a faster rate than ever before in order to ensure momentum continues and investments in the water trails and projects like it continue in the DSM community.

Hear from Project Partners

Partners of the Central Iowa Blitz Project are excited to see its quick progress. See what some of them are saying below:

“For this project, we really wanted to make things easy for the landowner both financially and from a workload standpoint. The project focuses on bioreactors and saturated buffers, and we selected which of those practices would be best for each site based on many factors evaluated in the survey process including; tile depth, tile grade, drainage area, soil types, etc. We did this to ensure we treat as much water as possible, while preventing any negative impacts on the field and crops that could be caused by over saturation of the soil,” said Tanner Puls, WQI-WMA coordinator, Polk SWCD. “The project will be installing practices on 51 tile outlets this year, and we have already surveyed over 100 outlets in preparation for another round of installations next year.”

“USDA-NRCS is committed to helping improve water quality in Iowa by helping farmers implement nutrient-reducing conservation practices like bioreactors and saturated buffers,” said Jon Hubbert, State Conservationist for NRCS in Iowa. “Major projects like this one in Polk County don’t get accomplished without multiple conservation partners stepping up to do their part.”

“The Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition believes that conservation drainage practices serve a critical role in conservation within working landscapes,” said Keegan Kult, executive director, Agricultural Drainage Management Coalition. “We see the Polk County saturated buffer project as the next step of building capacity to be able to deliver these practices at scale. While we are thrilled with the results the partners were able to accomplish, we are more excited to see how this project can serve as a springboard to continue to move from demonstration to widespread adoption.”

“Hands On Tiling and Excavating is excited to partner with this great group to bring this project to completion,” said Jacob Handsaker, owner of Hands on Excavating. “These practices serve as a great spoke in the wheel of our conservation and water quality goals. The public private partnership between federal, state, local agencies and private landowners will be a great stepping stone to ease concerns from landowners for the adoption of future water quality and drainage projects.”

Find more information at cleanwateriowa.org/centraliowaproject.

Described as the “most transformational quality-of-life project of our generation,” the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Master Plan is a road map for enhancing experiences in and along 150 miles of waterways in Greater Des Moines (DSM).

Mike Naig

Mike Naig is Iowa Secretary of Agriculture and works in partnership with Iowa organizations on conservation projects like the Central Iowa Blitz Project.