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local government, and state agencies have developed a watershed approach to improving water quality and replacing outdated drainage systems.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 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.