Jerry Parker- Chairperson, Wapello Co., BOS
Mervin McDanel - Vice Chairperson, Monroe Co., SWCD
Ray More- Secretary/Treasurer, Davis Co. SWCD
Mike Beary, Monroe Co. BOS
Sharon Redinbaugh, Appanoose Co. SWCD
Neal Smith, Appanoose Co. BOS
Ron Bride, Davis Co. BOS
Connie Beinhart, Wapello Co. SWCD
The Soap Creek Watershed is located within four counties in Southeastern Iowa: Appanoose, Davis, Monroe, and Wapello. The total drainage area is 162,000 acres. Floods occur on Soap Creek and its tributaries nearly every year; the majority of the flooding occurs during the months of March, April, May, and June. Improvements in the Soap Creek Watershed began in the 1960s after concerned citizens met to discuss possible solutions to the flooding problem. In 1971, the Board of Supervisors and the Soil and Water Conservation Districts from each of the four counties sponsored the first project application, which included the entire watershed. In 1986, they founded the Soap Creek Watershed Board, which consists of a county supervisor and district commissioner representative from each of the counties.
Their goal was to reduce floodwater and sediment damage. Floodwater affects crops, pasture, land quality, roads, bridges, rural water lines, and fences. The 1988 Watershed Plan-Environmental Impact Statement (Watershed Plan) reported that the annual benefit of this project is $536,030. Without the project, the cost of annual damage would be $327,660. The resulting benefit to cost ratio is 1.6 to 1.0. The project has greatly reduced flooding and flood damage caused by heavy rains, saving soil, farmland productivity, and money. This makes farmers, county officials, soil conservationists, and engineers happy.
Since 1986, Soap Creek WMA in partnership with the NRCS PL566 program improved the watershed by securing 5,000 acres of easements to construct 132 erosion/flood control structures. A 2013 University of Iowa study illustrated how these 132 structures are providing a vital role in reducing 100 year storm effects by 40%. The planning process has come full circle as many of the landowners are concerned that structures are filling with sediment derived primarily from gully erosion in upland forests. In 2007 the Appanoose SWCD received an assessment grant from IDALS-DSCWQ to conduct a sheet/rill and gully assessment of 12 structures in the watershed. In 2012, the Iowa NRCS State Office (McCurdy, Woida, White, Fopma, Manternach) completed a detailed sedimentation study concluding that many of the structures may not reach their intended 50-year service life.
In February 2016, a technical Advisory Group assembled by Soap Creek WMA agreed that successfully maintaining a healthy watershed in forested areas requires a comprehensive approach. The group concluded that timber stand improvement, prescribed Burning and log weirs should be used together to treat issues of excess soil loss, soil health and gully erosion within the forests of the watershed.