The South Fork water quality project began in May 1999 with a group of interested residents and business leaders who indicated support in establishing a comprehensive watershed program. After several meetings, a work group representing a broad cross-section of agriculture - business, governmental and community leaders - formed the Southfork Watershed Alliance. The SFWA was the first farmer-led watershed conservation group formed in the state of Iowa and is also the longest running.
The focus of the Alliance is to improve and enhance the current environmental and water quality status within the watershed of the South Fork of the Iowa River. Together with Tipton and Beaver Creek, the South Fork drains approximately 200,000 acres in Hardin, Hamilton, Franklin and Wright counties.
The Alliance has raised initial seed money from both private and public sectors to initiate long-term planning, for the placement of staff to build relationships with stakeholders involved in the partnership and to assist in the development of conservation practices. The ultimate success of the project is dependent on effective partnerships - grassroots partners working to identify problems and encourage the near-term implementation of soil and nutrient management practices - a true cooperative effort toward a common goal.
The mission of the Southfork Watershed Alliance - to protect, preserve and enhance the natural resources of the watershed of the South Fork and its tributaries through voluntary and community support - is a fundamental part of Iowa's overall environmental goals. Through the commitment of dedicated people and the Alliance partnership, the long-term project goals are achievable.