This project will provide cost-share funds to landowners in vulnerable groundwater areas for the incorporation of cover crops in their crop rotation and to provide education related to nitrogen BMPs through field trials and Nutrient Management Plans. An anticipated 100 producers in highly vulnerable areas, will plant 3,000 acres of cover crops resulting in preventing potentially 19,800 pounds of nitrate from leaching into groundwater.
This project will monitor six sites within the Minnesota River Basin: Hawk Creek near Maynard, Hawk Creek near Granite Falls, Beaver Creek near Beaver Falls, Yellow Medicine River near Granite Falls, Yellow Medicine River near Hanley Falls, and Spring Creek near Hanley Falls. The sites will be monitored according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network (WPLMN) Standard Operating Procedure, which is the procedure being followed for sites currently monitored by the Hawk Creek Watershed Project.
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 State of Minnesota has adopted a ten year cycle for managing water quality for each of the 80 major watersheds in the state. Every ten years, each major watershed will undergo a surface water assessment and a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) project. The North Fork Crow River WRAPS process is entering its second round which will focus both on addressing data gaps identified in the approved NFCRW Comprehensive Watershed Plan and on addressing additional required Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
The International Water Institute (IWI) will monitor 42 sites (3 basin, 12 major watershed, and 27 subwatershed) in the Red River and Upper Mississippi River Basins intensively during 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. There will also be 5 sites in the Red River Basin where mercury samples will be collected in 2016 and 2017 and sent to Minnesota Department of Health for analysis. The IWI will collect water samples across the range of flow conditions targeting sample collection at times of moderate to high flow.
The City of Hallock will restore and enhance habitat to facilitate fish passage by retrofitting the existing Hallock Dam on the South Branch of the Two Rivers and re-establishing a stable riffle-pool habitat downstream, as funding allows. The existing 11-foot high dam will be modified with a rock-arch rapids fishway that will provide lake sturgeon and walleye spawning habitat and reconnect more than 30 miles and in excess of 300 acres of high quality, diverse habitat along the South Branch.
The Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District will assist the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) with water quality monitoring and pollutant load calculations at four sub-watershed sites in the Zumbro River Watershed. Approximately 25 grab samples per site between ice-out and October 31 of 2019 will be collected along with field measurements and observations. Samples will be collected using procedures described in the Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network (WPLMN) Standard Operating Procedures and Guidance (SOPG).