Iowa Watershed Approach

Sponsor/grant agency:

Logo of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Disaster Resilience Competition


Larry Weber, Antonio Arenas Amado, Nate Young, Allen Bradley, Marcela Politano, Tony Loeser, Dan Gilles, Breanna Shea, Kate Giannini, Ashlee Johannes, Craig Just, Ibrahim Demir, Chris Jones, Keith Schilling, and Eric Tate


Amount of leveraged funding


Project Period




Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, cities of Dubuque, Coralville, and Storm Lake; Benton, Buena Vista, Fremont, Iowa, Johnson, Mills, Winneshiek, and Howard counties

Services provided by IFC:

The IFC serves as program lead for the implementation of watershed project and monitoring as well as resilience programming and assessment

“I am proud that Iowa is being recognized for our leadership in advancing innovative and data-driven flood reduction and water quality efforts.” —Terry Branstad, former Iowa governor

Project Description:

IWA Logo

The Iowa Watershed Approach (IWA) is a vision for Iowa’s future that voluntarily engages stakeholders throughout the watershed to achieve common goals, while moving toward a more resilient state. It is a replicable model for other communities where the landscape has lost its natural resilience to floods. This program is not only about Iowans helping Iowans, but also about demonstrating Iowans’ commitment to agricultural stewardship, to the environment, to their neighbors, and to the future.

The IWA will accomplish six specific goals in each watershed: 1) reduce flood risk; 2) improve water quality; 3) increase flood resilience; 4) engage stakeholders through collaboration and outreach/education; 5) improve quality of life and health, especially for susceptible populations; and 6) develop a program that is scalable and replicable throughout the Midwest and the United States.

IWA represents a program that brings Iowans together to address factors that contribute to floods. This approach is consistent with other statewide programs in Iowa to reduce flooding and improve water quality, such as the Iowa Flood Mitigation Program and the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Map of Iowa showing the nine watersheds participating in the Iowa Watershed Approach.Nine district watersheds representing different Iowa landforms will serve as project sites for the IWA. Each will form a Watershed Management Authority, develop a hydrologic assessment and watershed plan, and implement projects to reduce the magnitude of downstream flooding and to improve water quality during and after flood events. Flood resilience programs will also be implemented in each watershed to help increase community resilience to future floods. The nine project watersheds are: Upper Iowa River, Upper Wapsipinicon River, Bee Branch Creek (Dubuque), Middle Cedar River, Clear Creek, English River, North Raccoon River, East Nishnabotna River, and West Nishnabotna River.