The goal of this project is to use the We Are Water MN exhibit and their technical knowledge in relationship-building and storytelling to increase community capacity for sustainable watershed management in the Cannon River, Cedar River, Mississippi-Headwaters, Mississippi-Grand Rapids, Mississippi-Twin Cities, Red Lake River, Rum River and St. Louis River watersheds.
This project will support a civic engagement cohort that will be offered in southwest Minnesota to foster partnering and build capacity of local government, organizations, and residents for effective civic engagement in water protection and restoration. This project will also build networks and the skill set of local resource professionals to do effective civic engagement work for water restoration and protection. The cohort will be administered through the Minnesota River Board (MRB), established in 1995 with a goal of focusing water management efforts on the local level.
This project will gather watershed data necessary for the development of a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) report to maintain and improve water quality for the St Louis River Watershed.
The St. Louis River watershed is one of the largest watersheds in northern Minnesota and the largest single contributing watershed to Lake Superior. Surface waters are abundant with 353 lakes and 97 streams segments. Large areas of forest and wetlands help to sustain areas of exceptional water quality. However, land use changes have degraded many lakes, rivers, and streams. 21 stream reaches have aquatic life impairments, as identified by high turbidity (1 reach), poor quality aquatic macro-invertebrate community (16 reaches), and/or poor quality fish community (12 reaches).
Phase 1 of this project is primarily geared towards project planning and coordination among project partners, developing an initial civic engagement strategic plan, holding a watershed kick-off meeting, and gathering and summarizing available water quality data.
This monitoring work expands on previously established routine water quality and flow sampling to include extensive fish and aquatic invertebrate surveys. Subsequent steps include assessment of the monitoring data to determine impairments, identification of stressors that are causing impairments, development of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies using identification of pollutant sources using computer modeling and other techniques, civic engagement, and public education as approaches in progress towards water quality goals.
Locating the sources of sediment, phosphorus, and bacteria is integral to reducing the effect they have on a water body. The completion of the West Fork Des Moines River (WFDMR) Targeting and Prioritizing Endeavor will result in a set of data that is the most cost-effective for the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for all identified priority resources. The results will be expressed as the maximum reduction of a water quality contaminant (e.g. sediment, phosphorus, bacteria) at a priority resource (e.g. an impaired stream) for a given level of investment.