Based on the Minnesota Waters Lake and River Association database, Crow Wing County has the highest number of lake associations in Minnesota. Currently, there are over 136 lake association groups in the county, which does not include neighborhood, resort or religious groups. These lakes aer a cornerstone to the state's tourism econmy and there is a great demand for stormwater management incentive program to protect these local water resources.
Crow Wing SWCD is building off its success with Project Recharge and expanded the program to target Gull and Big Trout lakes. The SWCD selected these two lakes because of their declining transparency readings, 25 interested landowners, 2 adjacent resorts, and the community support, past partnerships, valuable fisheries, high ratio of forested land, and low ratio of impervious area in the lakeshed.The SWCD worked with partners to find willing landowners and businesses to complete the following types of projects:Swap Rock for Native Stock: Implement bioengineering to stabilize shorelines.
Fish Lake is a headwater of the Watonwan River. The lake is a regionally known fishery due to its unusual depth >20', lack of a mud bottom, and a naturally reproducing smallmouth bass fishery. The watershed has many tile drainage systems that are a source of nutrients to the lake. Woodchip bioreactors will be installed to reduce nitrogen from all tile outlets entering Fish Lake. This will help achieve the goal of a 40% reduction in Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the Minnesota River.
Mower County has completed the first phase of their county-wide imminent public health threat inventory and are currently in the process of phase two. This project will fund the third phase which will allow Mower County to inventory over 1,400 sites and remove an anticipated total of 230 imminent public health threats from discharging to local waters or to ground surface.
Mille Lacs Lake is recognized as one of the premier walleye producing lakes in the world. The current water quality of the lake is good, however recent monitoring of the lake and its watershed indicates the potential to develop problems. Since 1997, the Mille Lacs Lake Watershed Management Group has worked to preserve the water quality of Mille Lacs Lake. Five priority projects were identified by the Group partners in an effort to preserve water quality. Support for these projects was provided by a grant from the Clean Water Fund.
The 400-mile stretch of the Mississippi River from its headwaters at Lake Itasca to Morrison County near Little Falls is the focus of this project. Working in cooperation with the eight member counties, this project will develop implementation plans and strategies geared specifically for the Mississippi River and incorporate them into the individual County Comprehensive Local Water Plans. These recommendations will be for specific strategies, often crossing county boundaries for implementation.
The SWCD initiated Project Recharge to create and apply a protection strategy to address declining water quality trend reported in a 2008 large lakes analysis. The report contained watershed and trend analysis for lakes over 1,000 acres in size and led to targeting of lands located within lakesheds containing the highest ratio of impervious to pervious surfaces. These included the Cities of Breezy Point, Crosslake, and Fifty Lakes.
Water quality and flood damage reduction goals can't be accomplished without reducing flows and taking a targeted approach to the upper most reaches of the most critical waterways. Water and sediment control basins are eartern structures that retain water and have been identified as one of the best tool for measured success in reducing peak flows. For this project, basins will be targeted and implemented in the Upper Cedar River Watershed, specifically in the Dobbins Creek Watershed.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin is a large area within the Watonwan, Le Sueur, and Blue Earth River watersheds. Recent research by University of Minnesota, the National Center for Earth Dynamics, and others has found this basin to be the largest contributor of sediment to Lake Pepin.
The soil and water conservation districts within the watersheds for the Redwood and Cottonwood Rivers have been putting conservation practices on the ground for years in a long-running collaborative effort.
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.
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).