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 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 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 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 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 County Community Partners Grant Project will enable community groups to go beyond planning and take action to protect their water resources. This grant program will provide targeted community groups with the means to make positive improvements now and identify high priority projects for future opportunities. Engaging community members in the identification of water protection opportunities with the data in recently completed lake assessment reports will help build connections and foster a stewardship ethic.
This Initiative is a nine-year plan to take a systematic approach to inventory and analyze all Public Waters within the County. Phase 1 includes identifying areas of concern through GIS analysis of current landuse along Public Waters, and the development of a database of non-compliant landowners which will be updated and maintained. Once landowners have been identified they will receive a joint letter and map stating that they may not be in compliance.
The purpose of this project is to develop a detailed tool that can be used in all watersheds within the Otter Tail and Becker counties to prioritize, target, and measure implementation practices at the field scale. The PTM App will significantly increase the targeting capabilities in Otter Tail and Becker Counties. The Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy has not been completed for Otter Tail County, yet, and the PTM App will be able to assist targeting and prioritizing when those documents are created.
Realizing the need for increased technical capacity in the field offices, the Becker, East Otter Tail and West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation Districts have developed an agreement that will increase technical capacity while minimizing costs to each district. The first step was taken in this agreement through the recent hire of a shared engineer. Currently, minimal survey grade equipment is owned by the districts. This grant will be used to purchase an integrated survey system.
This project will monitor streams in target watersheds located in Ottertail and Wadena counties. Six sites have been identified by MPCA for biological monitoring; this project will complete the chemical and field analysis at these six sites.
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.
Rice County Water Resources Division will complete a Surface Water Assessment for six lakes located in the Cannon River Watershed. The lakes chosen include: Sprague Lake (66-0045-00), Mud Lake (66-0054-00), Hatch Lake (66-0063-00), Pooles Lake (66-0046-00), Logue Lake (66-0057-00), and Phelps Lake (66-0062-00). Each lake chosen is currently unassessed, and both Sprague and Mud lake are priority lakes for testing. Sampling will include testing dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, Secchi, Total phosphorus, and chlorophyll-a. The samples will be taken by volunteers and paid staff.