After 6 years of intensive baseline monitoring at 5 edge-of-field sites, 1 intermittent and 3 in-stream sites in 3 sub-watersheds representing the geomorphic regions of the Root River, the second phase of the project is well prepared for the implementation of BMPs. Continued monitoring will be used to measure the effectiveness of the BMPs for the next 6 years. In preparation for BMP implementation, extensive planning was completed using LiDAR terrain analysis and the Tomer Framework to prioritize practices.
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.
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.
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.
The lack of sewage treatment in many small communities in Southeast Minnesota is causing surface water and groundwater pollution. Fourteen of these small communities will receive technical assistance provided by this project. These communities have community or individual straight pipes which are discharging raw sewage directly to the environment, surfacing sewage, or have sewage contaminating groundwater.