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NEWS RELEASE: Des Moines Water Works helps purchase seeder to increase cover crop acres, improve surface water quality in Des Moines, Raccoon River watersheds

DES MOINES, IA (January 27, 2022) - Des Moines Water Works has joined in a unique project with several other entities to purchase equipment to increase the number of cover crop acres in the Des Moines River and Raccoon River watersheds.

A cover crop is a plant that is used primarily to slow erosion, improve soil health, increase biodiversity and can help improve water quality. The harvest of row crops, such as corn or soybeans, usually leave the soil surface of a field bare until the next crop is planted and a new plant canopy is established. Bare soil is subject to erosion caused by rainfall, snowmelt or wind, which can contribute to poor surface water quality.

“We continuously look for ways to help improve surface water quality and protect our vital resource of water,” said Ted Corrigan, chief executive officer and general manager of Des Moines Water Works, the largest drinking water utility in Iowa. “We recognize the value this project can have in sharing some of the responsibility to protect our public waterways and watersheds.”

Cover crops are important because they improve soil health, prevent erosion and buffer nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus from leaving farmland and entering public waterways such as streams, lakes and rivers that eventually flow through watersheds and to downstream water users.

The partnership, with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Polk County and the City of Des Moines, is designed to increase and expedite the amount of cover crops planted in the two watersheds that Des Moines Water Works relies upon to supply water to 600,000 central Iowans.

Ag retailer Heartland Co-op will use the seeder to apply cover crop seed for interested customers in Des Moines Water Works’ source watersheds. The project is being modeled after a similar program in the state of Kansas.

Increasing the number of cover crops in watersheds is part of Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The goal of Des Moines Water Works’ project with these partners is to seed up to 40,000 acres of cover crops within the next four years in the Des Moines River and Raccoon River watersheds.


About Des Moines Water Works

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is a regional water utility serving the citizens of Des Moines and surrounding communities (approximately 600,000 people). DMWW is an independently operated public utility with a commitment to leading, advocating and investing today and in the future to deliver water you can trust for life.

Jennifer Terry
External Affairs Manager

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