The University of Iowa

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority

Maquoketa River WMA logo

An effective path toward cleaner water and flood management in Iowa includes a strong emphasis on a watershed approach, which considers the entire area of land that drains into a body of water, such as river or lake. A watershed approach incorporates both technical data and robust stakeholder participation, so that policies and actions are realistic and data-driven.

Watersheds are not confined to traditional jurisdictional boundaries, and to accomplish local watershed-based planning, many cities, counties, and soil & water conservation districts have formed Watershed Management Authorities (WMAs) through voluntary, intergovernmental agreements. The first WMA in Iowa formed in 2012, and today, there are more than 20 WMAs recognized by the state of Iowa (Iowa Water Center).

The Maquoketa River in Eastern Iowa has a watershed that spans seven counties, including large portions of Delaware, Dubuque, Jones, and Jackson Counties, and smaller portions of Fayette, Clayton, and Buchanan Counties. While efforts to improve water quality and promote best management practices in this watershed have been happening for quite some time, the Maquoketa River WMA is a relatively new regional and intergovernmental organization. With 35 jurisdictions having joined the agreement, the Maquoketa River WMA exists to reduce flood risks and improve water quality. One way that they’ve had success in educating the public about the importance of the watershed is through recreational water uses, such as the new whitewater park in Manchester.

The WMA has a strong foundation in place, including an active technical committee, support from state organizations (such as the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship), broad stakeholder support, outreach to residents and local governments, and an active volunteer base for completing monitoring water quality and other activities.  

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority Projects


Students surveying in the woods

Cultural Education Center

Civil & Environmental Engineering students enrolled in the Senior Design Capstone course will design a site plan for an ADA-compliant cultural education center at Camp Courageous. Camp Courageous officials are requesting a cultural education...
MRWMA site visit

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Plan - Phase I

As part of their capstone project, second-year graduate students from the School of Planning & Public Affairs created a watershed management plan for the Maquoketa River Watershed. This project was completed as part of IISC's partnership with...
WMA site visit

Maquoketa River Watershed Management Plan – Phase 2

During the 2020-21 academic year, a team of five urban & regional planning students helped create the Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authority’s first ever plan. The team studied best practices, reviewed existing plans from across the...
Project Partners Surveying Land at Camp Courageous

Multipurpose Trail System

As part of their Senior Capstone Course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students will identify and connect points of interest on the Camp Courageous grounds with ADA-compliant nature trails for all campers to use. Camp Courageous' grounds...
Team of students surveying land for stormwater management facilities

Stormwater Quality and Detention

Civil & Environmental Engineering students will design stormwater management facilities to reduce contaminant load and stormwater velocity throughout the watershed. Camp Courageous officials are actively looking for stormwater management...
Group of students and Camp Courageous officials discussing Wellhead Protection project

Well Head Protection at Camp Courageous

As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, Civil & Environmental Engineering students will explore alternatives and make recommendations to reduce contaminants in the source water that serves Camp Courageous. Camp Courageous is a 501(c)(3)...