The Ann River Watershed is a sub-watershed of the Snake River Watershed located within the St. Croix River Basin. The Ann River watershed includes Ann Lake, Fish Lake, Ann River and its tributaries. This project will focus on watershed load reductions. Based on the strategies found in the Implementation Plan, the first priority will be to target the animal and cropland - agricultural areas on the Ann River and its tributaries. The second priority will be to target the lake shore and streambank areas in the non-agricultural areas.
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.
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.
Little Rock Creek, a cold-water trout stream in central Minnesota, is impaired due to the lack of trout and other cold water fish. The trout are absent because of high water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen and high nitrate levels, stressors caused from a lack of base flow and overuse of groundwater. This project continues a 2011 initiative to assist irrigators in the Little Rock Creek groundwater recharge area with managing the timing and amount of irrigation applied to their crops.
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.
This project combines the use of automated soil moisture probes for irrigation scheduling with diverse cover crop planting to reduce or eliminate leaching of nitrogen and other nutrients on cropland with an early season harvested crop in the rotation. The more efficient use of irrigation waters provides a secondary benefit: less withdrawal from the aquifers that provide recharge for the Mt. Simon-Hinckley aquifer.