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Perspectives on River Restoration

Will Gaskins and Rai Tokuhisa are Water Resource Engineers in Central Iowa. They recently attended a River Restoration Toolbox Training hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival in partnership with Iowa DNR and Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership (ISWEP). Below, they share their experiences and some of the lessons they learned.


As a Water Resource Engineer with RDG Planning and Design, I work on a variety of projects related to our surface waters. My work really boils down to infrastructure that protects Iowa waterways from further harm or improves their existing condition, with the occasional building saved or community amenity added as a bonus.

Part of why I enjoy working in this field is the unique circumstances related to every project. The River Restoration Toolbox Training outlines foundational processes in riverine systems, guiding principles for design, and common engineering solutions to create some consistency in the field of river engineering. It was also a great opportunity to share experiences among practitioners and develop our working vocabulary to better communicate with contractors and clients.



Welcome to Friday morning! It’s the first day after my Level 2 Training in the Iowa DNR’s River Restoration Toolbox. The air is brisk—downright cold, if I’m honest. I’m hesitant to admit that I’ve completely lost my cold tolerance, but my fears are assuaged when I get to the site. I just spent four days learning RiverMorph enchantments from Nate and George, and I’m about to learn construction tips from Nick. I’m relieved to note that they’re all in fleece and flannel, too (so I feel like less of a weenie). 

The site is a swath of park nestled in a residential section of Clive, Iowa. We are in Phase 2 of construction; the upper reach of the stream has already been raised and underpinned with rock riffles and toe-wood. Folks from Clive Public Works–the finest operations crew in the whole metro area–are scattered about. They’re getting ready to clear the stations they’ll be working on today while Nate, George, Nick, and I review cross-sections of interest. The cross-sections are slices of the intended design, plotted against a survey from the current buildout. They help the team compare how our current work matches up with the conveyance needs for the channel. 


Take Action by 10/21 - Send Comments on AFO Rulemaking Changes in Iowa

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To protect Iowa’s drinking water, Outstanding Iowa Waters, and other waters of the state, the Environmental Protection Commission must adopt rules requiring water pollution monitoring systems at feedlots, consideration of environmental factors before approving feedlots, and greater separation from karst terrain for new construction. We also need to reduce over-application of manure. The proposed rules do not change the current approach, which results in pollution of Iowa’s groundwater and surface water with nitrate and phosphorus. We need manure management plans that reflect current science and only apply the nutrients a crop can actually use.

The Iowa DNR’s proposed rules for feedlots do not protect groundwater and drinking water sources from pollution, especially in karst terrain. Submit your comments now telling DNR to strengthen the rules. Contact the Iowa DNR and submit your comments to support protecting Iowa’s waters from feedlot pollution by Friday, October 21.


IEC Celebrates Water Program Director Alicia Vasto's award

Conservation Learning Group recently recognized Alicia Vasto, Water Program Director, as one of this year's New Voices in Water Quality.

She accepted the award for Water Quality in Public Policy and Government at a luncheon in Ames last week.

Watch Practical Farmers of Iowa's Nitrate and Water Quality video

How does nitrate get into our water? How can we keep it in our farm fields where it can do the most good?

Learn more in this animated video created by member organization Practical Farmers of Iowa explaining how nitrate affects water quality and how farming practices can help.

Drake research study helping to create better flooding solutions

Understanding how communities interact with nearby waterways and how they value the ecosystem of the built and natural environment can inform more sustainable development and conservation efforts.

You're invited to take part in the study, which will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. 


Have your seen our Iowa Water Watch summer video?


Iowa Water Watch aims to increase awareness of Iowa’s recreational water quality and make monitoring data more accessible and easy to understand. We do this by providing science-backed information, hosting education and advocacy events, and sharing news and updates. View our Iowa Water Watch video, then share it with others to spread the word and encourage them to sign up for our newsletter and to stay involved.


What's new in Iowa's water news:

Upcoming water events:

Kayaking - Green Castle Recreation Area, Marshall Co. - Oct. 12
Fall Color Eco Cruise - Rock Creek Marina, Clinton Co. - Oct. 13
• OWL's Maquoketa River Fall Colors Annual Paddle - Central Park, Jones Co. - Oct. 14
• Maquoketa River Fall Colors Paddle - Maquoketa River Water Trail, Jackson Co. - Oct. 14
• Wapsi through the Seasons: Fall Kayak & Walter House Tour - Iron Bridge Woodland & River Access, Buchanan Co. - Oct. 15
• Save Our Streams Field Training - Bloody Run Creek, McGregor, IA - Oct. 15
• Open Canoe - Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, Woodbury Co. - Oct. 15
• Clean Water Act 50th Anniversary Party - Front Street Brewery, Davenport, IA - Oct. 18
• 2022 Upper Mississippi River Conference - Davenport, IA - Oct. 19-20
• "The River Runner" Showing - Jester Park Nature Center, Polk Co. - Oct. 20
• Fall Color Eco Cruise - Rock Creek Marina, Clinton Co. - Oct. 20
• Save Our Streams Field Training - Clive, IA - Oct. 29
• Bald Eagle Eco Cruise - Rock Creek Marina, Clinton Co. - Nov. 5
• IGWA Fall 2022 Conference - DMACC Newton Campus - Nov. 9
IEC's Green Gala & Art Auction - Mainframe Art Studios, Des Moines - Nov. 10


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