Ag’s Clean Water Alliance Receives Environmental Award

The organization of ag retailers in the Raccoon and Des Moines River watersheds called Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) was recognized with an Environmental Impact Award, presented during a ceremony at the Des Moines Botanical Center by a coalition of Des Moines organizations. Sponsors of the awards are the Metro Waste Authority, Des Moines Water Works, Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Center for Sustainable Communities.

The Environmental Impact Awards were established to recognize organizations and leaders who exemplify environmentally sustainable practices. Awards are given for several categories; ACWA was the recipient of the “civic” award.

ACWA’s membership consists of 13 leading ag retailers who share a dual mission to help farmers improve agronomic performance in the field while supporting environmental performance beyond the field’s edge.

ACWA members recognize that the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers are important indicator streams for Iowa and for agriculture. Neither these retailers nor their farmer customers want products intended for improving crops to end up instead in their local and downstream waters.

For that reason, though they are business competitors, ACWA members have worked together since 1999 and have invested more than $1 million to fund water quality monitoring in the Raccoon, and since 2008, in the Des Moines, and their largest tributaries. More than 10,000 water samples have been collected by 200 certified samplers.

Since starting with water monitoring, ACWA has expanded its efforts to include identification and demonstration of innovative practices that have shown potential for reducing nitrate transported to streams from tile drainage waters.

In addition, all ACWA members follow a Code of Practice, a formal agreement that they will not distribute anhydrous ammonia for fall application until soil temperatures reach 50 degrees F at a depth of four inches (60 degrees F with use of a nitrification inhibitor) with a forecast of cooling soil temperatures. This is a Best Management Practice designed to reduce nitrogen loss to streams from row crop agriculture.

ACWA’s unique work has led to numerous partnerships aimed at enhancing water quality while recognizing farmers’ needs to remain profitable and meet growing demands for their crops.

Regarding the award, Harry Arenholltz, ACWA president, says, “This recognition means all of ACWA’s effort is being recognized for its unique collaboration. In addition to our work in rural areas, we’re building awareness in the urban community that didn’t previously exist. City residents are pleased to learn about the agricultural community’s focus on clean water and the environment.”

Roger Wolf, ACWA’s executive director, agrees. “No doubt the issues we are working on are important to our farmers, but having the folks downstream recognize and applaud our efforts is a tangible result of the investment and the work accomplished by the ACWA over the last 11 years.”

(Source: Iowa Ag Connection)

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