This project is a model for future drainage projects across the state and represents a fundamental shift in the way rural drainage systems interact with the landscape. This is a community-based water quality and treatment demonstration project in which landowners, local government, and state agencies have developed a watershed approach to improving water quality and replacing outdated drainage systems. The project will improve water quality, improve wildlife habitat, and develop a process for future projects by constructing water quality features within the 6,000 acre watershed.
Vegetated buffer and filter strips along waterways is a practice that addresses many surface water concerns. Establishing permanent vegetation along waterways is an implementation priority in the Blue Earth County Water Management Plan and required by local ordinance and Minnesota Rules. Minnesota Shoreland Rules, Chapter 6120 and the County Shoreland Ordinance contain standards for agricultural uses in shoreland. Agricultural uses are permitted in shoreland areas if steep slopes and shore and bluff impact zones are maintained in permanent vegetation.
Ravine, stream bank and bluff erosion contribute significant amounts of sediment to rivers and streams. The MPCA report, Identifying sediment sources in the Minnesota River Basin, found the Blue Earth and Le Sueur watersheds contribute as such as half of the sediment to the Minnesota River, even though they account for only one-fifth of its drainage area. These watersheds contain the majority of the bluffs in the basin as well as many large
The nine member Counties and Soil and Water Conservation Districts of the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) will be able to enhance our effectiveness to provide elevated levels of technical assistance, education and outreach in the areas of urban stormwater, wellhead protection, nutrient management, conservation agronomy, drainage and agricultural best management practices to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Watonwan River Watersheds.
The Otter Tail River serves as the main drinking water supply for the city of Fergus Falls. The community recognizes it as a valuable resource which needs to be protected. The lower reach of the Otter Tail River is listed as being impaired for turbidity(muddiness).
Many of the aquifers that are located under Otter Tail County are susceptible to contamination from nitrates and other water soluble contaminants due to the coarse grained soils of the area. These aquifers are used by municipalities and rural residents. One of the common agricultural practices in the area that can have an effect on these aquifers is agricultural irrigation. Over application of irrigation can directly lead to leaching of nutrients that can contaminate our groundwater resources.
Currently, there are approximately 5,050 feedlots with fewer than 300 animal units that need to come into compliance with State feedlot rules. Clean Water Feedlot Water Quality Management Grant funds are being used to provide financial assistance to landowners with feedlot operations less than 300 animal units in size and located in a riparian area or impaired watershed.
The Mustinka River winds through five counties in west central Minnesota and empties into Lake Traverse, a border waters lake with excellent fishing and recreational opportunities. For several years, sections of the river have been impaired for turbidity due to too much soil/sediment eroding from the land and washing away into the water. Excess sediment degrades aquatic habitat
and feeds algae blooms.
This project will assist farmers across Southeast Minnesota by providing guidance on management of nutrient sources including livestock manure, commercial fertilizers, and legumes. This project is important because excess nutrients and bacteria are causing negative impacts to the quality of waters. Two Nutrient Management Specialists will work one-on-one with farmers to develop 70 plans each year. Over time, it is anticipated that the number of new nutrient management plans will decrease as acres with plans increase.
This new initiative aims to increase student achievement in and through the arts in nine west-central Minnesota schools. With the ultimate goal of positively impacting the learning of more than 1,500 students this year in the Lakes Country region, 40 teachers in the arts and in other content areas are engaged in professional development, curriculum development, and assessment literacy, leading to the development and implementation of arts-integrated lessons and units tied to the Minnesota Academic Standards.
The Arts Education in Minnesota Schools Research Project is surveying all public and private schools to collect baseline data on the status of arts education statewide to serve as a resource for making data-driven decisions. A national research and evaluation company, Quadrant Arts Education Research, is conducting the study, comprised of three elements.
The Pomme de Terre River watershed is located in west central Minnesota and occupies a portion of six counties. For many years surface water quality within the watershed has been a concern to local government, and in 1982 the Counties and SWCDs within the watershed area formed the Pomme de Terre River Association Joint Powers Board to begin addressing this issue. In 2002 the Pomme de Terre River was placed on the Impaired Waters list for turbidity.The project partners are collaborating to improve surface water quality within the watershed with a grant from the Clean Water Fund.
The RIM-WRP Partnership permanently protected 4,166 acres of priority wetlands and associated upland native grassland wildlife habitat via perpetual conservation easements on 46 sites and leveraged over $9.8 million of federal Wetlands Reserve Program funds.
The Sauk River Stormwater Runoff Reduction and Riparian Restoration Project is a watershed-wide effort to reduce the amount of nutrients delivered by stormwater and bank erosion to area surface waters. Funds will be used to assist local schools and municipalities with their restoration project design, installation, and financing.
The Red Clay Project was a 1970's era project that encompassed watersheds in Northeast Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin draining to Lake Superior. In Minnesota, efforts focused on sediment retention structures in two subwatersheds of the Nemadji River Basin in Carlton County. Sixteen structures were constructed in the Skunk Creek Watershed and four structures were constructed in the Deer Creek Watershed. The design life of these structures was 10-25 years depending on the specific project and the design life has now been exceeded.
Imminent Health Threat (IHT) systems are those that are discharging improperly treated human waste onto the ground surface or into surface waters. In addition to the potential water quality impacts, untreated sewage has the potential to introduce bacteria and viruses into the environment. When IHT systems are identified, county or city staff assist the homeowners through the process required to bring their systems into compliance with the septic ordinance.
Successful long-term treatment of sewage depends on a system capable of providing adequate treatment and effective on-going operation and maintenance. Clean Water Fund Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Program Enhancement and Inventory funds are used by counties to strengthen programs dedicated to SSTS ordinance management and enforcement. These funds are used for a variety of tasks required to successfully implement a local SSTS program including inventories, enforcement, and databases to insure SSTS maintenance reporting programs.
Residents in the Swan River Watershed have become increasingly concerned with their surface water quality. In an effort to reduce excess sediments and pollutants from entering surface waters, the Todd Soil and Water Conservation District will be identifying land owners in priority areas and working with them to install best management practices on lakeshore properties and feedlots within the watershed.Planned projects include: shoreland stabilization and restoration, river and lake bank stabilization, storm water controls, native plantings and livestock waste management projects.
The Sauk River watershed was selected to participate in the federal Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) program in 2010 to decrease nutrient contributions to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The MRBI program provides federal cost share funds to landowners to install conservation practices.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA), a nine County/SWCD JPO has identified buffers as a basin priority. This initiative will work towards the goal of identifying all DNR protected shoreland in the GBERBA counties without a 50 foot vegetative buffer. Buffer strips protect surface and groundwater from a multitude of pollutants. During stormwater run off events buffers can remove between 50 and 100 percent of nutrients, pesticides, pathogens, and sediment. The estimated sediment reduction for this project is 756 tons per year prevented from entering our waters.
Portions of the South Branch of the Buffalo River are currently overloaded with sediment. Two primary waterways in the watershed, Deerhorn Creek and the South Branch, are listed as impaired for turbidity. Due to sediment deposition in the channel, the waterways have lost much of their capacity. Historical attempts by landowners and others to restore the capacity of the channel by removing sediment have had limited success due to additional excess sediment being washed into the channel.
This program is a part of a comprehensive clean water strategy to prevent sediment and nutrients from entering our lakes, rivers, and streams; enhance fish and wildlife habitat; protect groundwater and wetlands. Specifically the Wellhead Protection Conservation Easement program is targeted to protect drinking water through the Reinvest in Minnesota Program (RIM).
Wolverton Creek is a 25 mile long tributary to the Red River of the North. Its watershed drains approximately 105 square miles located in Wilkin and western Clay Counties. Wolverton Creek is the outlet for numerous ditch systems and natural drainage in the area and is a significant contributor of sediment to the Red River. The City of Moorhead and other downstream communities obtain drinking water from the Red River. Since 85% of Moorhead's drinking water comes from the Red River, high turbidity results in
higher treatment costs for their drinking water system.