Six links to mark the International Day of Action for Rivers

March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers. These stories about water pollution and the economic potential of healthy rivers are worth a read.

Contrary to what agribusiness industry lobbyists would have you believe, a majority of Iowa farmers “support expanding conservation requirements for soil erosion and the control of nitrogen and phosphorous runoff.”

Iowa’s confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs or factory livestock farms) create more untreated manure annually than the total sewage output of the U.S. population.

Aging sewer systems in urban areas also allow too much sewage to leak into watersheds. The I-JOBS infrastructure bonding initiative (signed into law by Governor Chet Culver) included some money to improve sewer systems in Iowa, but we need to do much more on this front.

Iowa Rivers Revival Executive Director Rosalyn Lehman recently published a call to revive Iowa’s rivers in the Des Moines Register. I’ve posted excerpts from her guest editorial after the jump.

The Metro Waste Authority has created an Adopt a Stream website, with “resources to help you organize a stream cleanup in the Greater Des Moines area.”

Dam removal as part of a river restoration project supports local economic activity as well as the environment.

Note: Iowa Rivers Revival named Central City its 2012 River Town of the Year. In this excerpt from Rosalyn Lehman’s Des Moines Register guest editorial she describes why the non-profit organization named Dubuque its 2012 River City of the Year.

River restoration efforts also address problems that have big price tags, like flooding, bridge destabilization and water impairments. Eroding stream banks are often a major contributor of sedimentation. Standard engineering solutions usually call for armored riprap revetments or other expensive “hardscape” approaches with questionable long-term results. “Softscape” restoration approaches can enhance stream bank stability at a fraction of the cost, while enhancing fish and wildlife habitat and increasing a stream’s ability to filter nutrients and other pollutants. The results will also look more natural.

Dubuque, Iowa River Rivival’s 2012 River City of the Year, has adopted a number of innovative, softscape approaches in its Bee Branch Creek restoration project. At Bee Branch Creek, the city is “daylighting,” or opening up a stream long buried in a storm sewer. The changes will greatly increase storm water capacity and decrease flood risks for more than 1,000 properties in three historic neighborhoods. Other benefits include improved water quality and a new, mile-long linear park from north Dubuque to the Mississippi River.

Bee Branch Creek is just a small part of Dubuque’s river renaissance, which focuses on the city’s connection to the Mississippi. Highlights include downtown riverfront development around the Port of Dubuque and its stunning National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Here, the city has transformed 90 acres of industrial brownfield into a bustling center of history, tourism, recreation, commerce – and civic pride.

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