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 project the ground water aquifer serving the City of Long Prairie through assisting low income landowners in the replacement of 12 sub-surface treatment systems that have been documented as failing to protect groundwater within the Long Prairie Drinking Water Supply Management Area. Although the primary driver is ground water protection, replacing these failing systems will also protect surface water of which Lake Charlotte is in close proximity.
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.
The purpose of this project is to identify effective irrigation and nutrient management best management practices and technologies and the barriers that prevent irrigators, producers, and other agricultural partners from adopting them in Otter Tail County. The primary goal is to reduce nitrate in areas where groundwater is susceptible to contamination as mapped by The Minnesota Department of Health by identifying effective BMPs and addressing the barriers to their adoption.
As lake-focused development continues these high quality waters will see increasing amounts of land use change. The State Demographer projects that the targeted lake catchments will see population increases of 25-62% within 20 years. Isolating these contributing areas permits the Lake Protection Analysis project to perform multiple GIS analyses to accurately inform water quality discussions. The final framework will allow local water managers to prioritize across their water bodies, target activities to specific subsheds, and develop measurable goals.
The Lake Ida and Ditch 23 Wetland Feasibility Project will investigate and review the phosphorus loading of Lake Ida and design a project to protect Lake Ida water quality. Lake Ida is a 'high quality, unimpaired lake at the highest risk of becoming impaired' according to MPCA's Lakes of Phosphorus Sensitivity Significance. With the County Ditch 23 inlet identified as a priority area to reduce phosphorous, a professional engineering firm will explore the best solution to reduce phosphorus.
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.
The Otter Tail County Community Partners Grant Project will enable community groups to go beyond planning and take action to protect their water resources. This grant program will provide targeted community groups with the means to make positive improvements now and identify high priority projects for future opportunities. Engaging community members in the identification of water protection opportunities with the data in recently completed lake assessment reports will help build connections and foster a stewardship ethic.
This Initiative is a nine-year plan to take a systematic approach to inventory and analyze all Public Waters within the County. Phase 1 includes identifying areas of concern through GIS analysis of current landuse along Public Waters, and the development of a database of non-compliant landowners which will be updated and maintained. Once landowners have been identified they will receive a joint letter and map stating that they may not be in compliance.
The purpose of this project is to develop a detailed tool that can be used in all watersheds within the Otter Tail and Becker counties to prioritize, target, and measure implementation practices at the field scale. The PTM App will significantly increase the targeting capabilities in Otter Tail and Becker Counties. The Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy has not been completed for Otter Tail County, yet, and the PTM App will be able to assist targeting and prioritizing when those documents are created.
The Douglas County Partners for Clean Water program enables community groups to take action and improve their water resources. Engaging citizens directly in project development and installation efforts provides immediate water quality benefits and cultivates a community of active stewardship.
Realizing the need for increased technical capacity in the field offices, the Becker, East Otter Tail and West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation Districts have developed an agreement that will increase technical capacity while minimizing costs to each district. The first step was taken in this agreement through the recent hire of a shared engineer. Currently, minimal survey grade equipment is owned by the districts. This grant will be used to purchase an integrated survey system.
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.
This project seeks to inventory twenty registered feedlots identified as having an Unpermitted Liquid Manure Storage Area. Specifically, this inventory would include offering cost-share for soils investigations. These feedlots are located in three townships that have also been identified as having groundwater that is vulnerable to nutrient pollution, necessitating a need for nitrate testing per MN Department of Agriculture. These townships also house the vast majority of remaining unpermitted Liquid Manure Storage Areas in the County.
Todd County Septic Inspectors will research septic systems on 313 parcels that are located in the "highly vulnerable" portion of the City of Long Prairie's Drinking Water Supply Management Area. Each parcel's tanks and soil drain fields will be inspected for septic system compliance. Todd County will follow up with landowners found to have noncompliant systems in an effort to protect Long Prairie''s drinking water supply.