This project will support a civic engagement cohort that will be offered in southwest Minnesota to foster partnering and build capacity of local government, organizations, and residents for effective civic engagement in water protection and restoration. This project will also build networks and the skill set of local resource professionals to do effective civic engagement work for water restoration and protection. The cohort will be administered through the Minnesota River Board (MRB), established in 1995 with a goal of focusing water management efforts on the local level.
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.
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.
The goal of this project is to establish a framework that the local government can use to guide their involvement as the WFDMR Watershed Project progresses over the next four years. This will enhance the success of the overarching goal of providing a framework for which the local government and watershed organizations can engage the public in a manner that will lead to water quality improvement. This will result in strategies to protect or restore the waters in this watershed.
This monitoring work expands on previously established routine water quality and flow sampling to include extensive fish and aquatic invertebrate surveys. Subsequent steps include assessment of the monitoring data to determine impairments, identification of stressors that are causing impairments, development of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies using identification of pollutant sources using computer modeling and other techniques, civic engagement, and public education as approaches in progress towards water quality goals.
Locating the sources of sediment, phosphorus, and bacteria is integral to reducing the effect they have on a water body. The completion of the West Fork Des Moines River (WFDMR) Targeting and Prioritizing Endeavor will result in a set of data that is the most cost-effective for the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) for all identified priority resources. The results will be expressed as the maximum reduction of a water quality contaminant (e.g. sediment, phosphorus, bacteria) at a priority resource (e.g. an impaired stream) for a given level of investment.