In the early 80’s, a group of county officials from northwest Iowa approached the then executive director of the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC), John Torbert, and requested that a drainage committee be created within ISAC. It was their feeling that drainage really had no policy voice at the state level and that ISAC was the perfect place to create it. The committee was created and started to hold regular meetings, put forth legislative proposals and hold an annual conference.
In 1990, a decision was made to take things a step further and create the Iowa Drainage District Association as its own separate entity. A group of county officials met on February 9 of that year in Pocahontas. The minutes of that meeting reflect that that purpose of the meeting was to “organize a state-wide organization to educate officials, legislators and the public in regard to issues facing these localities. By putting together an organization of this type, goals may be collectively accomplished that the individual persons and boards have not been able to do. This is an organization that could be in existence for quite a while as environmental issues have been on the top burner for many groups and these issues will be around for a long time. It is time to organize and present the entire picture to the Iowa public to show what proposed legislation can be lived with and what is impossible to abide by because of the uniqueness of this (drainage) area. Various leaders and influential people involved here have been around a long time, but they do not know what a drainage ditch looks like, its purpose, why there were implemented and how they are managed by local boards. The group is here today to design an organization to accomplish these goals and to propose controls and means of presenting them to the legislature so that rules and regulations can be made into laws which can be feasibly applied and complied with.
The minutes of that meeting further reflect that during the afternoon session, a motion was made by John Erixon of Harrison County and seconded by Jim McClure of Monona County to create the Iowa Drainage District Association. That motion passed. The first set of officers for the new organization was as follows:
President - Jack Fischer, Pocahontas County
Vice President - Millie Lloyd, Hardin County
Secretary Treasure - Darel Burns, Buena Vista County
The IDDA was then officially incorporated as a non-profit corporation under the laws of the state of Iowa on March 9, 1990.
The IDDA existed as a strictly volunteer organization for about ten years. IDDA did retain a consultant to provide administrative and legislative support, but had no paid staff members. That changed in 2001 when the Board of Directors decided to hire its first full time executive director. John Torbert was hired in May of that year.
Since then, things have come full circle. The executive director of ISAC that originally created the ISAC drainage committee was John Torbert, now IDDA executive director. The ISAC board voted to do away with the drainage subcommittee in 2005 recognizing IDDA as the “pre-eminent drainage organization in the state.” With that vote by ISAC, IDDA is the only organization in the state of Iowa specifically representing drainage interests.