The Accelerated Water Quality Project Implementation Program will increase the connection between landowners, local government units and the landscape to accelerate efforts addressing non-point source loading to surface waters throughout the Red River Valley Conservation Service Area.
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.
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 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.
This project will result in the development of three critical pieces of information. They include: 1. Development of restoration and protection strategies for all waterbodies in the district relative to the State's Non-point Source Funding plan 2. Use of PTMApp to tie the WRAPs implementation tables from the Buffalo and Red River Watersheds to targeted on-the-ground projects and practices that will provide measurable water quality improvements, and 3.