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Hormel Foundation gives $3.2 million for river work

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AUSTIN — The Hormel Foundation is donating $3.2 million to the Cedar River Watershed District to accelerate water-quality improvements, mostly upstream of Austin.

The money will cover half the $6.4 million the district plans to spend over the next five years to do 25 projects on the Cedar River and Dobbins Creek, officials said in a media conference this afternoon.

They will both cut down on the amount of sediment coming into the city, and its East Side Lake, as well as lower the amount of water that rushes into Austin during a flood. Instead, it will mean water will come in slower and not rise as high.

The city of Austin is nearly complete with a series of in-city projects that include berms, flood walls and removal of hundreds of homes from areas that have often flooded.

The $3.2 million was request by the Austin Vision 2020 Waterways Committee; Vision 2020 is a wide-ranging push by Austin to improve it on many levels and in many areas, including its waterways.

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Landowner cooperation already has been secured on 13 of the 25 projects, which consist of 11 sites along the Cedar River (with four south of Austin) for ravine projects and 14 in the Dobbins Creek sub-watershed for storm water detention and flood-risk reduction structures.

"This is an exciting and important investment in our community's future," said Gary Ray, Chair of The Hormel Foundation. "These improvements will have a far-reaching impact on our waterways and provide a stronger safeguard against flooding."

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