This report examines the efficacy and current standing of Iowa’s Watershed Management Authorities (WMAs), intergovernmental entities formed to advance goals related to flood resiliency and water quality. Findings are based on two surveys conducted by the Center for Rural Affairs and collaborators in 2022 and 2023, and are supplemented by historical and other information collected.
Survey results show WMAs have had a demonstrable impact. Combined, WMAs have implemented more than 2,600 conservation practices across the state and invested tens of millions of dollars in federal, state, local, and other funding. Results show investments and buy-in from local landowners and demonstrate need for future projects.
Our findings also point to a widely shared need: sustainable funding for staff. The WMAs that are most successful are those with a watershed coordinator, a staff person responsible for managing and implementing projects and administrative tasks. More than 70% of respondents indicated stable coordinator funding was the one change that could best support their efforts. This presents a timely opportunity for state lawmakers and decision makers to support these important entities.