Background

Miller Creek is a warm-water stream located in the northeastern part of Monroe County in Southern Iowa. The Watershed consists of approximately 19,926 acres of land that starts at the northeastern corner of Albia and stretches to the town of Eddyville where it outlets into the Des Moines River. This area is located in the Iowa and Missouri Heavy-Till Plain, which is best described as steep rolling hills interspersed with areas of uniformly level upland divides and level, alluvial lowlands. The majority of land use is cropland, with the principal crops for the area being corn and beans. Hay and feed grains are also produced on a smaller scale.

 

Monroe County’s Soil & Water District Commissioners (SWCD) & Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) became concerned when Miller Creek had been listed on our State’s 303d Impaired Waters list. The list represents lakes and streams failing to fully support our state’s water quality standards. With this resource concern in mind, the following report describes the first phase of the assessment and work plan for the Miller Creek Project and its findings. Phase I of the Miller Creek Assessment revealed that excessive sediment and nutrient delivery into the stream from upland runoff could possibly be causing the impairment. It is believed that elevated water temperatures caused an increase in algae growth creating low dissolved oxygen levels.

 

This motivated the Monroe County SWCD Commissioners to apply for a grant of $255,300 which was awarded from the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) in 2010. Grant funds were partnered and matched by recipients over a three year period to support water quality projects addressing issues of soil erosion and pollutants entering Miller Creek. As part of the Phase I assessment, a comprehensive Watershed Management Plan was developed with the main focus of reducing sediment delivery by 70% on 60% or 3,837 of these priority acres. The strategy was to implement Best Management Practices (BMP’s) in Phase I & II of the project that would help address gully and upland sheet and rill erosion reducing sediment downstream. 

 

 Although Phase I and II were successful at reducing sediment, it was still clear that more assistance was needed.  So with a different plan in mind, the District applied for additional funding aimed toward nutrient reductions and soil health.  The Phase III project was modeled after the “IA Nutrient Reduction Strategy”.  The District decided to offer cost-share on nutrient management tools such as late spring nitrate testing (LSNT), fall stalk nitrate testing (FSNT) and soil grid sampling so farmers may obtain valuable data.  Obtaining this data if continued, can show if you are over or under applying fertilizers in specific areas which will then help producers make better management decisions ensuring excess nutrient runoff is minimal.  Along with these nutrient tools the District also promoted soil health through cover crops, and other various practices controlling sediment and nutrient runoff.  To demonstrate how to reduce nutrients leaving tile lines, a field day was held to display a woodchip Denitrification Bioreactor in the process of being installed. 

Watershed Size: 19,926 acres

Drainage Size: 31 Square Miles

Newsletters & Documents

Miller Creek

Resource Concerns: Sediment, Excess Nutrients

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