The English River watershed, located in southeastern Iowa, is 409,236 acres (approximately 639 square miles) in area. It is home to approximately 21,700 people, the majority of whom live in one of several, very small communities in the watershed. The watershed area covers portions of Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson, Washington, and Keokuk Counties and portions, or all of the following communities: Grinnell, Guernsey, Montezuma, Barnes City, Deep River, Millersburg, Keswick, Webster, Kinross, North English, Parnell, Wellman, Kalona, and Riverside.
This watershed consists of over 1,400 miles of streams and tributaries is part of the larger Upper Lower Iowa watershed, and contains over 1,400 miles of streams and tributaries. Almost 60% of the watershed landscape is utilized for row-crop production. A quarter of the area is grassland or pasture. Less than 12 percent of the watershed area is timber and developed areas combined.
In recent decades, communities and property owners in the watershed have been increasingly impacted by flood events. These events have been increasing in frequency and severity; and with each event, causing millions of dollars in damage to homes, farms, and infrastructure. Additionally, rain events carry phosphorus-rich topsoil and nutrients downstream, not only impacting water quality and habitat locally, but as far away as the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2015, a comprehensive watershed assessment and improvement planning project was completed in the English River watershed. The first phase of the project involved an assessment of the watershed’s strengths and weaknesses, and the second phase included development of recommendations to guide future improvement efforts. The English River Watershed Improvement and Resiliency Plan and Appendices are available on this website under “The Plan.” The Executive Summary is a summary of key findings and recommendations found in the full report.