This project will consist of identifying the candidate causes of biological stress and to develop and implement a public and stakeholder participation process that encourages local ownership of water quality problems and solutions. The Stressor ID process will be done using existing data, identifying data gaps, gathering new data, developing load duration curves, and refinement of the candidate causes. The civic engagement work will include compiling and reviewing existing data on community capacity and assessing that information.
This project will build network and the skill set of local resource professionals to do effective civic engagement work for water restoration and protection in Southeast Minnesota. The cohort will be administered through the Southeast Minnesota Water Resources Board (SE MN WRB) which is an area wide Joint Powers Board (JPB) established to help improve and protect the water resources of the area through coordinating local water planning efforts. This JPB has successfully administered water quality grants in the past that have positively impacted the water resources of this region.
The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead on implementing conservation practices that protect water quality. Those who implement and maintain approved conservation practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. This program will help address concerns about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal agencies.
The VRWJPO is pursuing a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) project in cooperation with the MPCA in order to better identify the sources of stress and impairment to the river, tributaries, and lakes and evaluate the feasibility of reaching water quality goals, and properly allocating pollution reduction goals to those areas identified as likely pollution sources. Successful restoration and protection outcomes are dependent on successful community building and ownership of both the problems and solutions identified in the WRAPS.