The City of Thief River Falls drinking water is taken from a 135 acre reservoir that is supplied by the Thief River and Red Lake River. Sedimentation and erosion have significant impacts to the waters in Pennington County. The reservoir is filling with sediment faster than expected. Buffers and side water inlets will help reduce sediment and improve water quality for these types of erosion. Buffers would also reduce nutrients polluting the waters in Pennington County and have a beneficial impact to the dissolved oxygen impairment on both the Red Lake and Thief River.
The Pennington SWCD has collaborated with Pennington County for several years to identify priority County Ditch reaches that are in need of buffers and grade stabilization structures. This cooperative effort has resulted in the reduction of nutrient and sediment delivery to the Red Lake River Watershed. Pennington SWCD has recently inventoried buffer and grade stabilization needs on three different County Ditch systems: 96, 21 and 16. A total of 23 miles of ditch has been inventoried, 15 miles of buffer are needed along with 81 grade stabilization structures.
This Initiative is a nine-year plan to take a systematic approach to inventory and analyze all Public Waters within the County. Phase 1 includes identifying areas of concern through GIS analysis of current landuse along Public Waters, and the development of a database of non-compliant landowners which will be updated and maintained. Once landowners have been identified they will receive a joint letter and map stating that they may not be in compliance.
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.
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.
This project is for Minnesota Legislative Clean Water Fund funding to engage citizens in local watershed monitoring, to work with regional partners to promote understanding and protection of watersheds, and to organize and facilitate gathering of scientific data all for the benefit of water quality in the Red River Basin.
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.