DES MOINES –Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today announced that Matt Lechtenberg has been hired as the new water quality coordinator for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. In this position Lechtenberg will support continued implementation of the Iowa water quality initiative through both statewide efforts and targeted watershed demonstration projects.
“We are extremely pleased with the strong start to the Iowa water quality initiative and Matt’s experience working with farmers, watershed projects and partner organizations will be a strong asset as we continue to move forward,” Northey said. “Matt will be working closely with a wide variety of partners to help farmers implement water quality practices.”
Lechtenberg has worked for the Department since 2006, most recently serving as an Environmental Specialist Senior. In this position he coordinated the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which supports the construction of targeted nitrate removal wetlands, and the Integrated Farm and Livestock Management fund, which provides funding for research and demonstration projects for farmers to make informed decisions on implementing conservation practices.
The Department received an increase of $22.4 million this fiscal from the Iowa legislature to support conservation and water quality improvements in Iowa. The new funding included $12.4 million for the water quality initiative, including the hiring of the coordinator.
The Department made $2.8 million available earlier this fall as cost share funding to help farmers implement new nutrient reduction practices on their farm. The funds were available to help farmers try new practices targeted at protecting water quality and the state funds could not be more than 50 percent of the total cost of the practice, so Iowa farmers will be providing at least another $2.8 million to support these water quality practices.
The Department has also received 17 applications for watershed demonstration projects that will focus on making water quality improvements in targeted watersheds identified by the Water Resources Coordinating Council. Applications are currently being reviewed and projects to receive assistance will be selected by the end of the year.
Additionally, the Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to start a nutrient management research center at Iowa State University that will conduct ongoing research on practices farmers can use to reduce nutrient losses.