Iowa PF Chapter Honored for Innovative Clean Water Project
Iowa’s Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter is the recipient of the Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence award for an upland habitat project that’s helping create cleaner water for the city of Remsen. The project has the potential to revolutionize the way rural towns and cities across the country can effectively clean up and maintain a safe water supply while simultaneously creating wildlife habitat.
In 2007, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) named Remsen as a city with high nitrate contaminant levels – nearly three times the maximum – in its well water. In fact, the water from eight wells on 90 acres of farmland needed to be blended before being safe to drink. The city was faced with three choices: purchase drinking water from an outside source, build a multi-million dollar filtration plant or take a risk and try planting native prairie on the well land to naturally treat the water.
Remsen received grants and low-interest loans to purchase the land, and the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter handled the planting of native grasses, providing $15,000 in seed, labor and equipment for this innovative way to treat the city of Remsen’s drinking water.
Since the planting in 2009, the community has seen a decrease in the nitrate levels and the water is now safe to drink without being blended. Nitrate levels have fallen from 27 parts per billion to around 5 or 6 parts per billion (10 parts per billion is the maximum contaminant level). The site is also being used as an outdoor classroom and the community can use the mowed walking paths to view the grasses, wildflowers, pheasants, songbirds and other prairie animals.
In addition to being part of an innovative, cost-effective project that benefits every citizen in Remsen, the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter was also able to accomplish two of its goals. “One is to plant habitat, and the second is to educate our youth about conservation. This fell into both of those categories,” said Mike Slota, a past youth chairperson and active member of the chapter.
No other community in the state or nation has used this solution to treat groundwater and the land will now remain a native prairie.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Governmental Relations.
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