With over 500 public water lakes in Becker County, we are blessed with abundant and diverse lake resources that, like those of much of lake country, are at risk of degradation due to increasing development pressures, redevelopment of non-conforming lots, rising stormwater runoff and land use changes within their watersheds.
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 Otter Tail River is located in west-central Minnesota. Its Lower Otter Tail River (LOTR) reach is impaired for sediment. The LOTR begins at the dam of Orwell Reservoir near Fergus Falls and ends 48 river miles downstream at the confluence with the Bois de Sioux River at Breckenridge. No point sources contribute directly to the LOTR. Consequently, the turbidity impairment must be addressed through non-point measures. Current stream instability and bank erosion is largely a result of an 18-mile channel straightening completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950s.
This restoration and protection project will reduce the loading of sediment to the Otter Tail River by 440 tons/year. This is about 6.5% of the total reduction needed to meet the goals of the Lower Otter Tail TMDL Implementation Plan. The Otter Tail River downstream of Orwell Dam is impaired due to sediment, with stream bank erosion being the primary contributor. This stream bank restoration will include the installation of woody toe debris benches and the installation of a vegetated slope along a 1,400 foot reach of the river.
The Otter Tail River is impaired for turbidity. This project involves the installation of 45 side-inlet structures into Wilkin County Ditch 3-2 and 7-1 and 22 acres of buffer strips along the entire systems. Eleven miles of continuous berm will also be constructed along the ditch. When installed these water quality practices will become a permanent part of the ditch system and will be maintained by the ditch authority. These ditches outlet to the Otter Tail River just upstream from Breckenridge, MN. Together these water quality BMPs will reduce sediment loading by 1,375 tons/year.
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.
An effective regulatory program is key to the successful implementation of local land use and water management plans. Yet, county, watershed, and other state, tribal, and local agencies charged with enforcement and permit review often work in silos and infrequently coordinate with each other or share information. This leads to higher enforcement costs, conflicts between agencies, redundancy of inspections, property owner frustration, and reinforces negative stereotypes of regulatory agencies.