The Faribault Soil and Water Conservation District will provide mini-grants to conservation-conscious community organizations who voluntarily construct best management practices that provide storage and treatment of stormwater runoff at its source.
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.
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.
Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District will develop two watershed plans using charettes, an intensive planning process used to engage citizens, conservation agencies, and others to collaborate on a vision for the development of a drainage watershed scale plan. The process allows landowners, producers, businesses, townships, cities and the county to partake in a comprehensive plan directly relating back to concerns and solutions related to surface water and nonpoint source pollution.
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.
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 Le Sueur Watershed Technician will provide highly focused targeting of conservation programs and practices in this key watershed. The technician will enhance current staff capabilities in the Le Sueur watershed by collecting landowner contact information, producing landowner mailings about funding opportunities, and meeting one-on-one with landowners to discuss conservation concerns they may have. This has been a highly successful method for targeting projects, project identification, landowner contact, and project follow through.
The LeSueur River Watershed is one of the highest nutrient loading watersheds for both phosphorus and nitrogen in the State of Minnesota. The LeSueur River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) Report was completed in August 2015 and further identifies pollutant sources and reduction goals within the LeSueur River Watershed. The WRAPS report highlights the Beauford Ditch watershed and the Madison Lake watershed area amongst the highest sources of nutrient loading to the LeSueur River.
To be able to manage resources in the Blue Earth and Le Sueur Watersheds into the future and have a positive effect on water quality, resource managers need high quality accurate data to support decision making of best management practice (BMP) implementation. Digital elevation data is a valuable resource for modeling water flow, however in its current state it cannot represent water conveyance through features such as roadways. These flow barriers limit the accurate use of data for recently developed targeting tools identifying BMP suitability and effectiveness down to the field scale.
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.