South Central Technical Service Area (SCTSA) will use this Clean Water Fund grant to provide Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other local organizations in its eleven-county area with a Geographic Information System (GIS) Technician to assist in using available GIS information to target specific locations where Best Management Practices (BMPs) can be installed to help improve water quality.
With limited funds and limited staff time available for targeting critical service areas and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs), Geographic Information System (GIS)-based tools that pinpoint locations where BMPs will have the highest effectiveness are increasingly important. The Blue Earth County/SWCD Watershed Implementation Targeting project will utilize LiDAR topographic data to determine areas of high importance for BMP implementation. The county is located in the Blue Earth, LeSueur, Watonwan and Middle Minnesota watersheds where there is a high density of impaired waters.
This project will conduct Inventory and Inspection of four drainage ditches in Blue Earth County: JD116, CD5, CD86 and CD56. The inventory of these drainage ditches is important in order to identify where erosion, sediment and/or nutrients contribute substantially to water quality degradation. The project will also prioritize sites for future side inlet control, buffer strip implementation, and/or storage and treatment implementation.
Currently, over 235 miles of open ditch are under the jurisdiction of the Brown County Ditch Authority. A majority of Brown County public ditches drain into large, impaired rivers including the Minnesota River (Turbidity), Cottonwood River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform), Little Cottonwood River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform) and Watonwan River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform). Thus far the Brown County Drainage Authority has been inventorying ditches as requested for repair by residents in the ditch system.
The purpose of this project is to reduce phosphorus loading to Crystal Lake transported primarily through County Ditch 56. Crystal Lake is listed on MPCA's 303d listing for phosphorus impairment. Increased phosphorus levels have caused toxic algal blooms, reducing its appeal to recreationalists and economic draw for the City of Lake Crystal. This project will directly address phosphorus sources from agricultural land.
This project will continue the offering of low-interest loans to citizens, some of whom may not be able to acquire funding otherwise, for upgrading 50 septic systems to ensure compliance with state rules. Grant funds will be used to administer the low-interest loan program.
The Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program identifies environmental contaminants for which current health-based standards currently do not exist or need to be updated, investigate the potential for human exposure to these chemicals, and develop guidance values for drinking water. Contaminants evaluated by CEC staff include contaminants that have been released or detected in Minnesota waters (surface water and groundwater) or that have the potential to migrate to or be detected in Minnesota waters.
This project will layer hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphic, and pollutant loading analysis with existing countywide PTMApp outputs to identify the four highest priority areas for BMP implementation in an eastern Nicollet County ravine system experiencing dramatic mass wasting events. Three alternatives for each priority site will be presented, including an evaluation of water quality benefit, construction costs, and a cost-benefit summary.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) along with Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Counties, landowners, and drainage authorities in the ten member counties will install conservation drainage practices to improve water quality. 103E drainage systems with documented sediment or water quality issues are the focus with the goal of installing 52 practices such as improved side inlets (grade stabilization structures), alternative tile inlets, denitrifying bioreactors, saturated buffers, storage wetlands and others.
Nicollet County is located in south central Minnesota and is bordered on two sides by the Minnesota River. A line of forested bluffs separate the river valley from land that is relatively flat and historically used for agricultural purposes. Approximately 245,000 acres of the County are actively farmed. The 2012 impaired waters list for water bodies located in Nicollet County include the Minnesota River, Seven Mile Creek, Rogers Creek and tributaries to the Rush River.
Approximately 70 percent of all Minnesotans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Wells used for drinking water must be properly sealed when removed from service to protect both public health and Minnesota’s invaluable groundwater resources. The Minnesota Department of Health protects both public health and groundwater by assuring the proper sealing of unused wells.
Clean Water funds are being provided to well owners as a 50% cost-share assistance for sealing unused public water-supply wells.
The Cannon River is a designated Wild and Scenic River that originates in Rice County and joins the Mississippi River 120 miles downstream near Red Wing. The Upper Cannon, which encompasses 29% of the entire watershed, has been identified as a priority subwatershed.