The Faribault Soil and Water Conservation District will provide mini-grants to conservation-conscious community organizations who voluntarily construct best management practices that provide storage and treatment of stormwater runoff at its source.
With limited funds and limited staff time available for targeting critical service areas and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs), Geographic Information System (GIS)-based tools that pinpoint locations where BMPs will have the highest effectiveness are increasingly important. The Blue Earth County/SWCD Watershed Implementation Targeting project will utilize LiDAR topographic data to determine areas of high importance for BMP implementation. The county is located in the Blue Earth, LeSueur, Watonwan and Middle Minnesota watersheds where there is a high density of impaired waters.
This project will conduct Inventory and Inspection of four drainage ditches in Blue Earth County: JD116, CD5, CD86 and CD56. The inventory of these drainage ditches is important in order to identify where erosion, sediment and/or nutrients contribute substantially to water quality degradation. The project will also prioritize sites for future side inlet control, buffer strip implementation, and/or storage and treatment implementation.
Once thought to have an essentially inexhaustible groundwater supply, Minnesotans are now realizing our rates of use are regionally unsustainable. Recent advanced modeling by the MN DNR and Metropolitan Council of aquifer supplies, in conjunction with predicted demand, indicate the major metropolitan area aquifers are currently subject to extraction rates that exceed recharge. Simply stated, we are mining our groundwater.
The Carver County Planning and Water Management Department (PWM) has an active well sealing cost share program. Following the adoption of the updated County Groundwater Plan in February of 2016, the Carver County Board of Commissioners moved to accelerate the program to encourage landowners to seal abandoned wells. Carver County is looking to supplement existing funds, as demand is expected to increase. With this additional funding, it is the goal of Carver County PWM to seal an additional 15 wells county wide.
Sediment and water quality issues are local priorities within the Thief River and Red Lake River watersheds, which have their confluence in the city of Thief River Falls. The 1W1P effort underway in the Red Lake River Watershed will identify opportunities for projects and practices that are targeted and result in measurable water quality benefits throughout the watershed using PTMApp.
Numerous County ditch systems in Pennington County end at a natural drainage prior to outleting into a river or other watercourse and these outlets can be in a very erosive state. The goal of this project is to inventory these systems to determine needs and prioritize projects for implementation.
The Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District Drainage Engineer will inventory public drainage ditches to identify priority systems and areas where erosion, sediment, and nutrients contribute to water quality degradation. Sites identified for potential side inlet control, buffer strip need, or water storage will be prioritized for landowner contact and follow through by seeking external funding opportunities.
Working with a consultant, a current online database to manage public drainage systems will be enhanced and a corresponding mobile inspection app will be developed to facilitate drainage compliance and improve inspection planning. With these improvements, a long-term, comprehensive, GIS-compatible database will be in place to help plan, collect, document, summarize, and analyze system condition, repair needs, and violations with the overall goal of protecting and improving water quality.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance is a Joint Powers Organization consisting of nine member Counties and Soil and Water Conservation Districts encompassing the Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Watonwan River Watersheds. This project will enable the Alliance to continue to provide staff and add capacity in the areas of technical assistance, education and outreach.
For several decades, community members, lake associations, county officials, and local natural resource professionals have targeted Lake Wakanda in Kandiyohi County to improve water quality. This community led team, is working to address conservation issues within the watershed and the deeply degraded waters caused by years of altered hydrology, increased urban stormwater runoff, and increased agricultural pressures. This grant application is a phase I approach to resolving these issues by focusing on watershed management in Kandi Creek, a tributary into Lake Wakanda.
Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District will develop two watershed plans using charettes, an intensive planning process used to engage citizens, conservation agencies, and others to collaborate on a vision for the development of a drainage watershed scale plan. The process allows landowners, producers, businesses, townships, cities and the county to partake in a comprehensive plan directly relating back to concerns and solutions related to surface water and nonpoint source pollution.
McLeod County will create an inspection database for 103E ditches under their drainage authority. The County will acquire a database software solution to conduct field inspections and to track ditch maintenance projects. This software will be used to facilitate statutory compliance including developing a process for completing the annual inspection and reporting requirements. The project will lead to improving the County's data management capabilities and better identification of drainage system needs that could lead to helping improve water courses that are impaired for turbidity.
Ensuring natural resource practitioners are applying state-of-the-art approaches is the best way to achieve optimum Best Management Practice (BMP) selection, design, and placement in the landscape, thereby maximizing Clean Water Fund (CWF) benefits. To that end, it is critical to train new staff, create modeling protocols for new BMPs, refine and calibrate models, and test ever-advancing modeling applications.
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.
To be able to manage resources in the Blue Earth and Le Sueur Watersheds into the future and have a positive effect on water quality, resource managers need high quality accurate data to support decision making of best management practice (BMP) implementation. Digital elevation data is a valuable resource for modeling water flow, however in its current state it cannot represent water conveyance through features such as roadways. These flow barriers limit the accurate use of data for recently developed targeting tools identifying BMP suitability and effectiveness down to the field scale.
The goal of the project is to identify priority locations for project implementation using the Prioritize, Targeting, and Measuring Application (PTMApp) in the Thief River Watershed. The PTMApp will be used to identify and evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of best management practices including treatment scenarios, and provide estimates of sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus delivered to the Thief River Watershed, which is impaired for sediment.