With over 500 public water lakes in Becker County, we are blessed with abundant and diverse lake resources that, like those of much of lake country, are at risk of degradation due to increasing development pressures, redevelopment of non-conforming lots, rising stormwater runoff and land use changes within their watersheds.
Pasture and hayland account for 62% of the agricultural land use in Clearwater County. In 2012, it was the 12th largest producer of beef cattle in Minnesota. In a county where 22% of pasture/hayland acres are within 300 feet of riparian areas, management practices need to be introduced that enhance rather than restrict the farm operations that use these zones for their livelihood. Clearwater County's Silver Creek and Ruffy Brook are currently listed as impaired by fecal coliform.
This project will complete an inventory of drainage systems to prioritize locations for structural erosion control practices and buffer strips that will reduce sediment loading into Marsh Creek and Lower Wild Rice River downstream, which are both impaired by turbidity. An inspection plan and database will also be developed to enhance the county drainage ditch inspection program.
The Prioritization, Targeting, and Measuring Water Quality Improvement Application (PTMA) connects the general qualitative strategies in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Watershed Restoration and Protection (WRAP) and the identification of implementable on-the-ground Best Management Practices (BMPs). Leveraging geospatial data from the International Water Institute this application will be developed for two pilot areas within the Red River Basin.
As part of the FY 2012 funding cycle, the Board of Water and Soil Resources granted funds for development of the Water Quality Decision Support Application (WQDSA). The WQDSA will provide land and water managers with geospatial data and online tools to prioritize, market, and implement actions on the landscape to achieve water quality objectives identified in local and state water plans and to ensure that public funding decisions are strategic and defensible.
An effective regulatory program is key to the successful implementation of local land use and water management plans. Yet, county, watershed, and other state, tribal, and local agencies charged with enforcement and permit review often work in silos and infrequently coordinate with each other or share information. This leads to higher enforcement costs, conflicts between agencies, redundancy of inspections, property owner frustration, and reinforces negative stereotypes of regulatory agencies.
The South Branch Wild Rice Sediment Reduction Project will implement 45 erosion control structures and 40 acres of filter strips to reduce sediment loading to the South Branch of the Wild Rice River in Becker County. Sediment leaving the project area contributes to water quality impairments downstream where Total Suspended Solids (TSS) are affecting aquatic life and aquatic recreation. This project is projected to reduce sediment loads leaving the project area by 26% and reduce TSS in the Lower Wild Rice River by 7%.
Phase 2 of the Wild Rice River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) project includes: continued civic engagement; production of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study, which allocates pollutant load reductions for impaired waters; and production of the WRAPS report, which identifies implementation strategies that will maintain or improve water quality in many lakes and streams throughout the watershed.