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Deep Creek-Willow Creek
Water Quality Initiative Project


Many streams, creeks and rivers in Northwest Iowa experience degradation by agricultural activities, producing increased sedimentation, low habitat heterogenicity and poor water quality. These degraded waterbodies are a source of drinking water for local communities and are a crucial habitat for native flora and fauna.  The effects of increasing agricultural activities can clearly be seen in the Deep Creek-Willow Creek watershed. The Deep Creek-Willow Creek watershed is currently on the List of Impaired Waters due to not meeting the Aquatic Life intended uses as determined during Iowa Department of Natural Resources routine investigations in 2007. The Deep Creek Water Quality Initiative Project began in 2014 and extended to include Willow Creek in 2020. The Deep Creek-Willow Creek watershed covers over 100,000 acres. It extends across Plymouth, Sioux, Cherokee, and O' Brien County and flows into one of the most polluted rivers in Iowa, the Floyd River. The Deep Creek-Willow Creek promotes and demonstrates conservation practices outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy to protect and improve water quality within our project area. This project prioritizes information and education opportunities, community and partner engagement and offers cost-share payments for targeted conservation practices to eligible producers and landowners..​

The Deep Creek-Willow Creek Watershed Project Coordinator is Shay Kamstra. Kamstra was born and raised in Northwest Iowa.

She attended Northwestern College in Orange City and received a Bachelor's degree in biology, with a focus in ecology. 

With a large amount of highly erodible land, or HEL, the promotion of management practices such as cover crops, no-till and low disturbance manure injection have been successful throughout the Deep Creek-Willow Creek watershed.

Structural Practices have also found their way onto our landscape with the installation of a saturated buffer and a denitrifying bioreactor within the watershed. As we continue to find ways to educate and increase interest, we will rely on our relationships with producers and stakeholders whose experience can serve as a local resource for local producers.


Many participants have relied on the information at field days and farmer meetings to encourage them to implement conservation in their own systems.

If you are a producer in the Deep Creek-Willow Creek watershed, you may be eligible for cost share opportunities. Give Kamstra a call at Plymouth County Soil & Water Conservation District to learn more!

WQI cost-share funds are available the following  practices within the watershed.
All management practices have a 200 acre maximum (see map below).


No-Till / Strip Till
$10/acre - beans planted

$20/acre - corn planted 


P-Band (Low Disturbance Manure)
$10/acre - first time 

$10/acre - repeat applicants must plant cover crops on the same acres


Cover Crops  



Nitrification Inhibitor

$3/acre - must be nitrapyrin, fall application only 


50% cost share


Saturated Buffer
75% cost share, can be paired with other cost share programs


Denitrifying Bioreactor

75% cost share, can be paired with other cost share programs 

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