Demand for Engineering services in Northeast Minnesota's nine-county Area III Technical Service Area is exceeding the capacity to deliver the needed services. There are increased requests from Soil and Water Conservation Districts for engineering needed to design and install Best Management Practices in part due to requests related to Clean Water Fund projects. These funds will be used to hire an engineer, which will increase engineering capacity and result in the completion of at least five additional projects per year.
When completed, this Lake County-wide culvert inventory project will have multiple direct benefits to water quality protection, natural resource planning, and municipal asset protection. This inventory will be used to provide local and state authorities accurate information on the condition of road crossings, better calibrate hydrological modeling tools crucial to the inter-agency Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) process, and assess how road crossings in Lake County are affecting the water and sediment transport capacity of our waterways.
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 Watonwan Watershed Technician will provide highly focused targeting of conservation programs and practices. The technician will enhance current staff capabilities in the Watonwan watershed by collecting landowner contact information from previous studies and GIS methods, produce mass mailings about funding opportunities, and meet one-on-one with landowners to discuss their conservation concerns. The technician will implement 45 projects/practices over a three year period.
With the completion of LiDAR data in southern Minnesota, it is imperative to use this data as effectively as possible. In order to do so, the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) will contract with a vendor to complete a Geographic Information System (GIS) terrain analysis in subsheds of the Watonwan River watershed. This inventory will utilize the State of Minnesota LiDAR elevation datasets to create many GIS datasets by spatially analyzing the elevation data.
The Watonwan Watershed Resource Specialist has been funding with Clean Water funds since 2012. Since that time, the Watonwan Watershed Resource Specialist has been a crucial connector between landowners and natural resource professionals in the Watonwan Watershed. As the technical ability and responsibilities of the WWRS expands, the need and urgency to secure extended funding becomes a priority. This project will fund half of the Watonwan Watershed Research Specialist position through year 2020.