With floodwaters along the Mississippi River in the southern U.S reaching historic levels it’s time for Iowa to take a leadership role in helping prevent future flooding by investing in watershed improvement programs and conservation in Iowa.
Many people might not know what a watershed is. A watershed is basically a basin defined by highpoints and ridges that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea.
A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:
"that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.
This is the connection between watershed and land management practices in Iowa and recent flooding on the Mississippi River. ...more after the jump...
Every drop of water that falls in Iowa and moves into our rivers, lakes, and streams eventually ends up in the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers and in the Gulf of Mexico. Slowing water upstream through well executed conservation practices can help lessen the impacts downriver.
Imagine if Minnesota, and the Dakota’s were getting the rain levels they are seeing south of us…Iowa would face another round of historic flooding.
The Mississippi River drains 41 percent of the continental U.S. and is the third-largest watershed in the world. Flooding along the river and its tributaries has closed roads and set crest records in Missouri.
Barge traffic stopped on the Ohio River, which drains into the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, last week. Record flooding also poses a risk to oil refineries and other operations along the Gulf; risking a dramatic spike in gasoline prices if processing is shut down like it was after Hurricane Katrina.
According to recent reports, conservation and watershed improvement programs are facing cuts of nearly 40% for the FY 2012 budget currently being considered when compared to FY 2010. This includes programs like Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program (REAP) which is facing a 25% cut in the FY 2012 budget.
To support this funding, Iowa's Water & Land Legacy is asking not only Iowans, but everyone who lives along the Mississippi River, to contact Governor Branstad and let him know that watershed investments aren’t just important to Iowans, but also to the health and economic security of every person who lives along the Mississippi River.
To facilitate this contact, Iowa’s Water & Land Legacy has partnered with Change.Org to launch a nationwide petition campaign at:
This tool will let Iowans contact Governor Branstad and register their opinion.