The Accelerated Water Quality Project Implementation Program will increase the connection between landowners, local government units and the landscape to accelerate efforts addressing non-point source loading to surface waters throughout the Red River Valley Conservation Service Area.
The Thief River and its tributaries have deteriorating water quality due to sedimentation. Sediment plumes and deltas have formed at the inlets of pools in Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge (Agassiz Pool) and Thief Lake, an important recreational resource in Northwest Minnesota.
Funds are to be used to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and to protect groundwater and drinking water. Activities include structural and vegetative practices to reduce runoff and retain water on the land, feedlot water quality projects, SSTS abatement grants for low income individuals, and stream bank, stream channel and shoreline protection projects. For the fiscal year 2012, BWSR awarded 13 local governments with funds to complete 143 projects. More information is available in the detail reports below.
The Thief River is the source of drinking water for the City of Thief River Falls. The river's other designated uses also include recreation and aquatic life. Water quality monitoring conducted by local agencies discovered that the Thief River is not meeting state water quality standards for both turbidity (muddiness) and dissolved oxygen. Each year, approximately 12,376 tons of sediment is deposited into the Thief River Falls reservoir by the Thief River. That is the equivalent of over 1,200 dump trucks full of dirt.
In the early 1900s, a joint State and County drainage project constructed a 1 mile outlet channel to Grand Marais Creek to provide a shorter outlet to the Red River and effectively abandoned the lower 6 miles of the natural channel. In recent times, the ditch has eroded from its original shape to a channel of steep gradients and unstable banks. This has resulted in head cutting of the channel and nearly continuous channel erosion and bank sloughing with the effect of depositing up to an estimated annual average of 700 tons of sediment into the Red River.
Lake Bronson is the only major recreational lake in Kittson County. The project is a continuation project from FY2012 and will reduce runoff and decrease movement of sediment, nutrients and bacteria by targeting, prioritizing and installing vegetative practices and installing Side Water Inlets within the Lake Bronson watersheds. Emphasis will be placed on the South Branch of Two Rivers. There is a portion of impaired stream reach as identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control, which directly feeds Lake Bronson.
This project will provide land and water managers in the Red River Basin with data and online tools to prioritize actions on the landscape that achieve water quality objectives identified in local and state plans. This will help identify strategically important locations for implementing erosion control and water management practices. Standardized watershed-based data products will be integrated into a web-based planning tool which will be added to the Red River Basin Decision Information Network (RRBDIN) being developed as part of the Red River Watershed Feasibility Study.
The Red Lake Watershed District will create an inspection database for 103E ditches under their drainage authority. The district will acquire a database software solution to conduct field inspections and to track ditch maintenance projects and use the software to facilitate compliance with state statutes. The project will also develop a process for completing the annual inspection and reporting requirements under Statue 103E.