On November 10, a denitrifying bioreactor was installed in the Squaw Creek Watershed. This practice is put into place to intercept the field tile line in order to run the water through a pit of woodchips. The woodchips act as a carbon source for denitrifying bacteria, which convert the nitrate in the water to N2 gas.

The landowners, two Boone County residents, approached Prairie Rivers of Iowa in 2016 with interest in doing their part to protect water quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed and the larger South Skunk River Watershed. We utilized cost-share through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (designated for our Squaw Creek Watershed project), as well as cost-share through the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to help offset the financial investment the landowners made.

The denitrifying bioreactor was designed by ISG Engineering out of Storm Lake, IA. The consultant on the project was Central Iowa Dirt and Demo out of Kamrar, IA. Both partners provided the technical information and guidelines to make the project a success on the day of installation. The installation took just over 2 days from the pre-construction meeting all the way through the seeding of cool season grasses on finished biroeactor. On November 10, what felt like the coldest day of the year, we held a demonstration day and invited the public and media sources to view the installation.

Prairie Rivers of Iowa has spent the past three years building partnerships, creating an outreach campaign, and working with farmers and landowners in the Squaw Creek Watershed on conservation practices – to build soil health and improve water quality for all. Conservation practices like this one are crucial in our effort to protect the water quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed and other watersheds in the South Skunk Watershed. Without willing landowners and tenants, we will not be able to reach our goals for nitrate and phosphorus reduction in the watershed.