The Accelerated Water Quality Project Implementation Program will increase the connection between landowners, local government units and the landscape to accelerate efforts addressing non-point source loading to surface waters throughout the Red River Valley Conservation Service Area.
Currently, there are approximately 5,050 feedlots with fewer than 300 animal units that need to come into compliance with State feedlot rules. Clean Water Feedlot Water Quality Management Grant funds are being used to provide financial assistance to landowners with feedlot operations less than 300 animal units in size and located in a riparian area or impaired watershed.
The Thief River is the source of drinking water for the City of Thief River Falls. The river's other designated uses also include recreation and aquatic life. Water quality monitoring conducted by local agencies discovered that the Thief River is not meeting state water quality standards for both turbidity (muddiness) and dissolved oxygen. Each year, approximately 12,376 tons of sediment is deposited into the Thief River Falls reservoir by the Thief River. That is the equivalent of over 1,200 dump trucks full of dirt.
In the early 1900s, a joint State and County drainage project constructed a 1 mile outlet channel to Grand Marais Creek to provide a shorter outlet to the Red River and effectively abandoned the lower 6 miles of the natural channel. In recent times, the ditch has eroded from its original shape to a channel of steep gradients and unstable banks. This has resulted in head cutting of the channel and nearly continuous channel erosion and bank sloughing with the effect of depositing up to an estimated annual average of 700 tons of sediment into the Red River.
Once known for its clean water, fertile soil, and healthy habitat, in more recent times the Heron Lake Watershed in southwestern Minnesota has been heavily impacted by pollution from intensive agriculture, feedlots, non-compliant septic systems, and urban stormwater runoff. The Heron Lake Watershed District is using this appropriation for public outreach and installation and monitoring of water quality improvement projects aimed at reducing sediment and nutrient loading for the benefit of public health, recreation, and wildlife habitat.
A Level III Feedlot Inventory in the West Fork Des Moines River Watershed identified the need for a new manure storage basin. The Heron Lake Watershed District will be partnering with Murray County, Murray Soil and Water Conservation District, and Southwest Prairie Technical Service Area to construct the basin to ensure that manure and milk house wastewater will be properly stored. In addition, the project will decrease the size and usage of open lots using buffer strip and pasture to significantly reduce nutrient loading.
The Mustinka River winds through five counties in west central Minnesota and empties into Lake Traverse, a border waters lake with excellent fishing and recreational opportunities. For several years, sections of the river have been impaired for turbidity due to too much soil/sediment eroding from the land and washing away into the water. Excess sediment degrades aquatic habitat
and feeds algae blooms.
This project will assist farmers across Southeast Minnesota by providing guidance on management of nutrient sources including livestock manure, commercial fertilizers, and legumes. This project is important because excess nutrients and bacteria are causing negative impacts to the quality of waters. Two Nutrient Management Specialists will work one-on-one with farmers to develop 70 plans each year. Over time, it is anticipated that the number of new nutrient management plans will decrease as acres with plans increase.
The goal of the Pomme de Terre River Association (JPB) is to improve local water resources within the watershed through targeted voluntary efforts and build strong relationships with local landowners, producers, and citizens. Utilizing the State's first Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, the JPB has targeted and identified specific areas and activities required for marked water quality improvement.
The Pomme de Terre River watershed is located in west central Minnesota and occupies a portion of six counties. For many years surface water quality within the watershed has been a concern to local government, and in 1982 the Counties and SWCDs within the watershed area formed the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity.The project partners are collaborating to improve surface water quality within the watershed with a grant from the Clean Water Fund.
This project will, over a 27 month period, fund a 0.75 Full Time Equivalent Conservation Planning Specialist position to update approximately 400 United States Department of Agriculture Highly Erodable Lands conservation plans on 40,000 acres in high priority areas within the Root River watershed. Currently, only 5% of the USDA conservation plans -approximately 40 per year - are being checked for compliance, and this project will increase that number to 150 or more per year.
The purpose of this project is to provide a new shared position in southeast Minnesota which will accelerate the adoption of soil health practices by leveraging the existing efforts of the National Resources Conservation Service and other organizations.
The lack of sewage treatment in many small communities in Southeast Minnesota is causing surface water and groundwater pollution. Ten of these small communities will be the target of the technical assistance provided by this project. These communities have community or individual straight pipes which are discharging raw sewage directly into the environment, surfacing sewage, or have sewage contaminating groundwater.
Imminent Health Threat (IHT) systems are those that are discharging improperly treated human waste onto the ground surface or into surface waters. In addition to the potential water quality impacts, untreated sewage has the potential to introduce bacteria and viruses into the environment. When IHT systems are identified, county or city staff assist the homeowners through the process required to bring their systems into compliance with the septic ordinance.
Successful long-term treatment of sewage depends on a system capable of providing adequate treatment and effective on-going operation and maintenance. Clean Water Fund Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Program Enhancement and Inventory funds are used by counties to strengthen programs dedicated to SSTS ordinance management and enforcement. These funds are used for a variety of tasks required to successfully implement a local SSTS program including inventories, enforcement, and databases to insure SSTS maintenance reporting programs.
A new GIS technician will help prioritize and target conservation activities and protection strategies in nine north-central Minnesota counties. The GIS technician will create GIS products, assessments, and watershed analysis to identify the high priority areas in each County or watershed in need of protection or restoration using all available data, including LiDAR, soils, land use, completed WRAPS and other datasets. These areas will then be targeted for future resource management efforts, Clean Water Fund projects, and additional conservation activities.
Water flows without concern for political jurisdiction boundaries. This often means project work requires a little more coordination. Jackson, Cottonwood and Murray County did the extra coordination to land a grant to reduce sediment to the West Fork of the Des Moines River. The approved grant has four separate projects inthree counties.Jackson County has two projects: the Federated Rural Electric Association sediment control structure and the City of Jackson bioswale.
The Southwest Prairie Technical Service Area 5 (SWPTSA), located in the southwest corner of Minnesota, encompasses 11 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs): Cottonwood, Jackson, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock, and Yellow Medicine. This project will protect natural resources within the three major river basins of Minnesota, Missouri and Des Moines Rivers. The SWPTSA will assist member SWCDs in locating and identifying priority subwatersheds that have soil erosion and water quality issues using terrain analysis.
The West Central Technical Service Area (WCTSA) serves 12 Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) in west central Minnesota and has been experiencing increased workload due to greater requests from member SWCDs. This funding will sustain a limited-term technician and purchase related support equipment to assist landowners in implementing targeted, high priority practices that result in the greatest water quality outcomes.