Multiple water courses in the Buffalo River - Red River Watershed District are impaired for turbidity. These waterways include the Red River of the North, Wolverton Creek, Deerhorn Creek, Stoney Creek, South Branch Buffalo River, and the main stem of the Buffalo River. This project will provide a means of prioritizing areas of the watershed to implement conservation practices to reduce overland runoff contaminant loadings contributing to water quality impairments.
In 2002, citizens began to notice severe algal blooms in Cedar Lake, a high value recreational lake with exceptional clarity and fisheries habitat. Clearwater River Watershed District (CRWD) began an intensive monitoring program in 2003 to identify nutrient sources and protect Cedar Lake. Through intensive lake and watershed monitoring, CRWD identified the major source of nutrients to the lake. Three nutrient impaired shallow lakes; Swartout, Albion and Henshaw Lakes, in the upper watershed and impaired wetlands discharge excess amounts of soluble phosphorus.
The nine member Counties and Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) will be able to enhance our effectiveness to provide elevated levels of technical assistance, education and outreach in the areas of urban stormwater, wellhead protection, nutrient management, conservation agronomy, drainage and agricultural best management practices to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Watonwan River Watersheds.
In the battle to make real progress in sediment reduction to Turtle Creek, buffer strips are on the defensive front lines, holding the land at its most critical point. Grass strips along waterways have long provided a catchment area for agricultural field runoff. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has developed guidance and performance standards that utilize the maximum amount of benefit when installed through that program. In recent years, the Turtle Creek Watershed residents have faced a difficult decision over whether or not to incorporate grass buffers on their farms.
The purpose of this project is reduce peak flows in the North Fork of the Crow River through culvert sizing. Culvert sizing will typically result in smaller culverts, which will provide short-term temporary storage within channels and on adjacent lands upstream from road crossings. In addition to reducing peak flow rates, flood damage and downstream erosion, increased sediment and nutrient removal through extended detention time is expected.
The Otter Tail River serves as the main drinking water supply for the city of Fergus Falls. The community recognizes it as a valuable resource which needs to be protected. The lower reach of the Otter Tail River is listed as being impaired for turbidity(muddiness).
Many of the aquifers that are located under Otter Tail County are susceptible to contamination from nitrates and other water soluble contaminants due to the coarse grained soils of the area. These aquifers are used by municipalities and rural residents. One of the common agricultural practices in the area that can have an effect on these aquifers is agricultural irrigation. Over application of irrigation can directly lead to leaching of nutrients that can contaminate our groundwater resources.
Lake Seven is located in Otter Tail County and is a waterbody of statewide significance, often leading the north central hardwoods forest ecoregion in water clarity. Lake Seven has also been identified by DNR Fisheries staff as one of 77 refuge lakes with the potential to maintain tulibee populations into the future given sufficent watershed protection and the only one in Otter Tail County.
Lake Shaokatan and its 13.9 square mile watershed is the headwaters of Yellow Medicine River, which is one of the thirteen major watersheds in the Minnesota River and the largest watershed in Lincoln County. The primary land use is agriculture with the major crops being corn and soybeans. The trend for significant soil loss is due to the nature of the topography with the highest point in the Yellow Medicine Watershed in Lincoln County being 1,960 feet and the lowest being 1,160 feet, a drop of 800 feet in 25 miles.
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 negatively impacted from 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 continues a 2012 Clean Water Fund collaborative effort to develop a plan to reduce the amount of sediment washed into the river.
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.
The primary land use within the North Fork Crow River Watershed District is mainly row crop agriculture with extensive public and private drainage systems. A large portion of existing tile lines have open intakes that directly transport sediment and nutrients to open ditches leading to the North Fork Crow River (NFCR). The NFCR flows into Rice Lake that is impaired for aquatic recreation due to excessive nutrients.
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.
This grant program provides community groups with the ability to make positive improvements, a venue to grow community and identify water quality opportunities. Engaging community members in the identification of water protection opportunities helps build connections and foster a stewardship ethic. Selecting projects requires community groups to collaboratively develop priorities among the range of water quality impacts. Implementing projects provides a unique active social enviroment that helps build connections and energy to motivate and grow the community into the next project.
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.
The Otter Tail Water Management District (OTWMD) manages the wastewater for nearly 1,750 private residences near Otter Tail Lake, Deer Lake, and Lake Blanche. There OTWMD is responsible for 101 monitoring wells that were installed in 1984 and 1985 that are no longer being used and need to be properly sealed. The goal of this project is for the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (EOTSWCD) to assist the OTWMD in properly sealing 100% of the monitoring wells that are located within the Otter Tail Surficial Aquifer.
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. In 1982 the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board was formed to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity. This project is a continuation of a 2011 Clean Water Fund project.
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. In 1982 the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board (JPB) was formed to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity. The goal of the JPB is to improve the local water resources within the watershed through voluntary efforts and building relationships with local landowners.
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.
A large portion of Otter Tail County has been identified as being susceptible to groundwater contamination from nitrates and other water soluble contaminants. Agriculture is the predominant land use activity in this area. Irrigation in the county has increased in the last few years. With the vast majority of the residents getting their drinking water from groundwater sources, protecting ground is a priority for the county.
This project will provide land and water managers in the Red River Basin with data and online tools to prioritize actions on the landscape that achieve water quality objectives identified in local and state plans. This will help identify strategically important locations for implementing erosion control and water management practices. Standardized watershed-based data products will be integrated into a web-based planning tool which will be added to the Red River Basin Decision Information Network (RRBDIN) being developed as part of the Red River Watershed Feasibility Study.
Stormwater runoff from the City of Kimball drains untreated into Willow Creek, a trout stream. Willow Creek is tributary to Lake Betsy, which is impaired by excess nutrients. This project targets phosphorus removal for Lake Betsy as identified in the Upper Watershed TMDL Studies for the Clearwater River Watershed and protection to Willow Creek trout habitat by infiltrating the 1.5-inch storm event off 428 acres in and around the City of Kimball.
The Redwood River and Cottonwood River watersheds encompass approximately 2,020 square miles of southwestern Minnesota in the Minnesota River Basin. Land use in these watersheds is mostly agricultural and area geology makes them prone to erosion. Surface water issues within the two watersheds are a concern of local leaders. The counties and Soil and Water Conservation District leaders formed the Redwood Cottonwood Rivers Control Area (RCRCA) Joint Powers Board in 1983 to address sedimentation, water quality and quantity, and erosion issues.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin is a large area within the Watonwan, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth River watersheds. Recent research by University of Minnesota, the National Center for Earth Dynamics, and others has found this basin to be the largest contributor of sediment to Lake Pepin.
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 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.
This project contains several activities that will implement effective, shovel ready conservation practices on multiple water bodies. The goal is to reduce the erosion impacting stream bank stability. Three initiatives will be implemented, including the installation of four shoreland restoration/stabilization projects, completion of two stream bank stabilization projects on the Middle Fork Crow River and a rain barrel program. An education program will provide outreach to lake and city residents throughout the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed.
The Le Sueur Watershed Technician will provide highly focused targeting of conservation programs and practices in this key watershed. The technician will enhance current staff capabilities in the Le Sueur watershed by collecting landowner contact information, producing landowner mailings about funding opportunities, and meeting one-on-one with landowners to discuss conservation concerns they may have. This has been a highly successful method for targeting projects, project identification, landowner contact, and project follow through.
The soil and water conservation districts within the watersheds for the Redwood and Cottonwood Rivers have been putting conservation practices on the ground for years in a long-running collaborative effort.
This area of the Minnesota River Basin has been identified as contributing significant amounts of sediment to the watershed. The primary cause of the sediment is from gullies and ravines. This project by the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) continues efforts begun with FY2011 Clean Water Funds. Using data collected through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and LiDAR, GERBA will install best management practices to address severe ravines and gullies in targeted specific locations.
Turbidity and sediment yield from the Le Sueur River watershed to the Minnesota River is a problem. Studies have shown that 200,000 tons/yr come from non-field sources and 25,000 tons/yr come from field sources. With this grant we will develop strategies to reduce sediment yield from the Freeborn County Cobb River Ditch subwatershed.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA), a nine County/SWCD JPO has identified buffers as a basin priority. This initiative will work towards the goal of identifying all DNR protected shoreland in the GBERBA counties without a 50 foot vegetative buffer. Buffer strips protect surface and groundwater from a multitude of pollutants. During stormwater run off events buffers can remove between 50 and 100 percent of nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, and sediment. The estimated sediment reduction for this project is 756 tons per year prevented from entering our waters.
Phase II of the Upper South Branch Project will continue a FY2011 CWF project with the strategic implementation of conservation practices within the Upper South Branch of the Buffalo River watershed. This second phase will result in approximately 305 acres of new filter strips, 50 side inlet sediment control structures, and 8 sediment control basins which will reduce sediment loading to the stream by 4,700 tons/year and phosphorus by 9,700 pounds/year.
Portions of the South Branch of the Buffalo River are currently overloaded with sediment. Two primary waterways in the watershed, Deerhorn Creek and the South Branch, are listed as impaired for turbidity. Due to sediment deposition in the channel, the waterways have lost much of their capacity. Historical attempts by landowners and others to restore the capacity of the channel by removing sediment have had limited success due to additional excess sediment being washed into the channel.
Project partners play a vital role in the implementation of the Verdi Wellhead Protection Plan and have made this water source a priority in lowering nitrate levels. The aquifer used by the wells in the Verdi Well Field consists of a sand and gravel horizon about 30' thick which overlies clay-rich till. The geological sensitivity in all five of the Verdi wells is classified as "high".The Verdi Well Field supplies water to ten community water suppliers, 34 large rural users, and 1,126 rural hookups. Total population served by this water supply is about 7,500.
Wolverton Creek is a 25 mile long tributary to the Red River of the North. Its watershed drains approximately 105 square miles located in Wilkin and western Clay Counties. Wolverton Creek is the outlet for numerous ditch systems and natural drainage in the area and is a significant contributor of sediment to the Red River. The City of Moorhead and other downstream communities obtain drinking water from the Red River. Since 85% of Moorhead's drinking water comes from the Red River, high turbidity results in
higher treatment costs for their drinking water system.
Over the years, the landscape of the Yellow Medicine Watershed has changed through drainage and loss of wetland areas. The Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Lincoln, Lyon and Yellow Medicine counties work cooperatively with the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District to oversee implementation of conservation practices in this watershed. Based on previous Clean Water Partnership diagnostic studies, it is known the river is receiving an excessive loading of nutrients, phosphorus and suspended solids. These conditions have led to declining dissolved oxygen levels as a result.