Once thought to have an essentially inexhaustible groundwater supply, Minnesotans are now realizing our rates of use are regionally unsustainable. Recent advanced modeling by the MN DNR and Metropolitan Council of aquifer supplies, in conjunction with predicted demand, indicate the major metropolitan area aquifers are currently subject to extraction rates that exceed recharge. Simply stated, we are mining our groundwater.
This project will identify and prioritize opportunities to implement a multipurpose drainage management plan that will provide adequate drainage capacity, reduce peak flows and flooding and reduce erosion and sediment loading, improving water quality to the West Branch Rum River.
Lake George is the premier recreational lake in Anoka County with above average water quality, a vibrant fishery, and a large regional park and beach that is among the most utilized in the county. Located in northwestern Anoka County within the Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization (URRWMO), the Lake George Improvement District (LGID) was formed to tend to the lake's diminishing water quality and problematic invasive species.
Ensuring natural resource practitioners are applying state-of-the-art approaches is the best way to achieve optimum Best Management Practice (BMP) selection, design, and placement in the landscape, thereby maximizing Clean Water Fund (CWF) benefits. To that end, it is critical to train new staff, create modeling protocols for new BMPs, refine and calibrate models, and test ever-advancing modeling applications.
This grant will fund the creation of a new Coordinator position with a primary focus on the Mille Lacs Lake subwatershed. Although not currently impaired, the Lake faces increasing development and land use pressure. Implementation of protection strategies is essential to the Lake's long-term health but current staffing does not allow sufficient time to be spent on project development and outreach to identify interested landowners.
The Project and Outreach Coordinator will facilitate efforts within the watershed to provide landowner support and assistance in identifying areas in need of conservation plans and best management practices. The coordinator would use the Watershed Protection and Restoration Strategy Report and county water plans to target and prioritize outreach and education to maximize water quality benefits. This will greatly multiply the number of educated landowners in the watershed and increase the number of projects implemented.