A demonstration is set for Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Iowa City to show the connection between healthy soil and clean water. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A demonstration is set for Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013, in Iowa City to show the connection between healthy soil and clean water. (photo/Cindy Hadish)

A relaxing day at Wapsipincon State Park this past weekend helped me appreciate the waterways that run through Iowa.

Unfortunately, our state doesn’t have the best reputation for pristine rivers, streams and lakes, but efforts are underway to make changes, utilizing the sometimes overlooked connection between healthy soils and clean water.

One of those projects is happening Sat., Nov. 9, in Iowa City. Read more from Backyard Abundance about this event:

Demonstration to Showcase Healthy Soil-Water Connection

Local conservation groups will host a soil remediation demonstration and field day this weekend and the public is invited to attend.

The event will take place Saturday, November 9 from 1-4 pm near the south canoe access at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area, 4213 SE Sand Road, Iowa City. In an effort to prevent storm water carried pollutants from reaching Sand Lake, a plot of severely compacted soil will be rejuvenated through a method called soil remediation.

In the process of soil remediation, the area will first be mowed and a sub-surface plow will be used to turn over the compressed earth.

Approximately 80 tons of compost will then be spread over the area and tilled to mix with existing soils. Finally the site will be covered with native prairie seed that will develop deep root systems and further facilitate rainwater infiltration. The technique enhances soil porosity and allows rainwater to permeate rather than run-off directly into natural bodies of water.

Organizers hope the demonstration will inspire people to take similar actions on their own properties.

As homes and businesses are constructed, soil quality often diminishes. Compaction occurs beneath heavy equipment and the shallow roots of non-native turf limit porosity. This results in hardened pavement-like lawns that shed rainwater; and with it pet waste, fertilizers and other pollutants, directly into storm drains and onto rivers, lakes and streams.

Soil remediation can avert this.

“Many people are concerned about water quality and recharging our aquifers, but they feel helpless, as if it’s out of their hands,” said Fred Meyer, director of Backyard Abundance. “This project shows people how to directly improve the health of our urban streams and ponds through simple techniques that can be replicated in a landscape of any size.”

The project is sponsored through a partnership between Iowa City Parks and Recreation, Iowa City Landfill, Backyard Abundance, ECO Iowa City, and Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District. Representatives from these organizations will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the relationship and value of healthy soil and water.

Refreshments will be served, and those in attendance may have the opportunity to help spread prairie seed at the end of the day.

For more information on soil quality restoration, please visit Rainscaping Iowa.


 Backyard Abundance is an Iowa City-based nonprofit that helps build vibrant communities by creating beautiful, resilient landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.