The Beltrami SWCD proposes to partner with citizen and non-profit groups to complete projects that will reduce stormwater runoff and retain water on the land. The majority of the projects will be in the Lake Bemidji lakeshed which has recently been identified in the WRAPs project as being on the verge of impaired for nutrients. With the City of Bemidji being a regional hub for Northwestern Minnesota and the First City on the Mississippi, there are ample opportunities for citizen involvement and ample opportunities for stormwater improvements.
The goal of this project is to develop a Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan (WRAPS) to be used at the local level. It will increase the number of citizens participating in education and outreach events; foster information and idea exchange around watershed issues through relationships and social networks; involve community members in crafting civic engagement activities/plans in which they feel ownership and desire to implement; and promote awareness, concern, and watershed stewardship to community organizations/institutions.
The Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) is a voluntary opportunity for farmers and agricultural landowners to take the lead on implementing conservation practices that protect water quality. Those who implement and maintain approved conservation practices will be certified and in turn obtain regulatory certainty for a period of ten years. This program will help address concerns about changing regulatory requirements from multiple state and federal agencies.
Phase 1 of this project is primarily geared towards project planning and coordination among project partners, developing an initial civic engagement strategic plan, holding a watershed kick-off meeting, and gathering and summarizing available water quality data.
The International Water Institute (IWI) will monitor 42 sites (3 basin, 12 major watershed, and 27 subwatershed) in the Red River and Upper Mississippi River Basins intensively during 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. There will also be 5 sites in the Red River Basin where mercury samples will be collected in 2016 and 2017 and sent to Minnesota Department of Health for analysis. The IWI will collect water samples across the range of flow conditions targeting sample collection at times of moderate to high flow.
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.