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 East Branch Blue Earth River is currently negatively impacted and has been shown to contribute disproportionately high sediment loads to the Minnesota River. With limited funds available for implementing conservation practices, targeting tools to pinpoint locations where conservation practices have the highest effectiveness are increasingly important. Innovative use of technology can help streamline these targeting procedures.
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.
The project will utilize GIS to analyze the Middle Minnesota River Watershed in Renville County to inventory conservation project potential in this watershed, then target priority projects for future funding. This project will create the opportunity to evaluate the watershed using the most advance scientific data available. Conservation practices that will be evaluated are wetland restorations, buffers and filter strips, sediment basins, grass waterways, and grade stabilization structures using LiDAR layers.
State law (M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Ch. 6) directs restoration evaluations to be conducted on habitat restoration projects completed with funds from the Clean Water Fund (M.S. 114.D.50 Subd. 6). The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is responsible for convening a Restoration Evaluation Panel containing at least five technical experts who will evaluate a sample of up to 10 habitat restoration projects annually. The Panel will evaluate the restorations relative to the law, current science, stated goals and standards in the restoration plans, and applicable guidelines.