A portion of northwest Iowa river has been pumped dry

Via Iowa DNR

Grace Smith | December 20, 2022

A two-mile portion of the Ocheyeden River dried up in September 2022 during extreme drought conditions and an increase in pumping by Osceola County and the Osceola County Rural Water System. This segment which dried up led to many aquatic lives to die. 

“It’s surreal,” said Ed Jones, who owns 90 acres of pasture land that borders the river told the Iowa Capital Dispatch. “There’s no water. There’s no mud. There’s no nothing. It’s just gravel.” Jones, also a supervisor, said that the dry is becoming blatant and worse because a large amount of water from the river is getting pumped by the rural water utility and sold for use in Minnesota. 

An extensive portion of the river has become dry several times in the past seven years because the rural water utility has pumped more water from the ground and sold a quarter of it out of state.

In November, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources asked the Osceola County Rural Water System and Osceola County to develop new plants to prevent the rest of the river from drying up even more. The rural utility draws water from shallow wells near the river and the DNR said those wells directly impact the water levels in the river. The rural water utility declined to comment on the Iowa Capital Dispatch article, so it is unclear what the utility’s plans are.

On the Radio: Maquoketa River Revamp


Maquoketa River/ Photo by tiswango/ Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers a recent river project over in Delaware County. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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On the Radio: Master River Steward Program

Cedar River – Photo by tiswango; Flickr

This week’s On the Radio segment covers a portion of the Master River Steward Program’s ongoing work with rivers and communities. Listen to the audio below, or continue reading for the transcript.

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Charles City named Iowa River Town of the Year

Photo courtesy of Iowa Rivers Revival.

Earlier this month Iowa Rivers Revival, an advocacy group for rivers, awarded their Iowa River Town of the Year award to Charles City, Iowa.

IRR hailed the city’s numerous river-oriented projects, including the construction of new riverside parks, and the transformation of a low-head dam into the state’s first whitewater kayak course.

  “The city’s projects both protect the Cedar River and celebrate it as a rich source of enjoyment and civic pride,” Peckumn said.  “We commend Charles City as Iowa’s River Town of the Year.  Your efforts will be admired, discussed, and emulated by other Iowa river towns for a long time to come.”

Charles City officials say the projects have resulted in increased response to tourism and community promotional efforts.

“The Cedar River is now more than ever a valued asset for the community, making Charles City an even better place to live, work and play,” City officials said.

For more information, read the full Iowa Rivers Revival press-release.