With limited funds and limited staff time available for targeting critical service areas and implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs), Geographic Information System (GIS)-based tools that pinpoint locations where BMPs will have the highest effectiveness are increasingly important. The Blue Earth County/SWCD Watershed Implementation Targeting project will utilize LiDAR topographic data to determine areas of high importance for BMP implementation. The county is located in the Blue Earth, LeSueur, Watonwan and Middle Minnesota watersheds where there is a high density of impaired waters.
Currently, over 235 miles of open ditch are under the jurisdiction of the Brown County Ditch Authority. A majority of Brown County public ditches drain into large, impaired rivers including the Minnesota River (Turbidity), Cottonwood River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform), Little Cottonwood River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform) and Watonwan River (Turbidity/Fecal Coliform). Thus far the Brown County Drainage Authority has been inventorying ditches as requested for repair by residents in the ditch system.
This project will support a civic engagement cohort that will be offered in southwest Minnesota to foster partnering and build capacity of local government, organizations, and residents for effective civic engagement in water protection and restoration. This project will also build networks and the skill set of local resource professionals to do effective civic engagement work for water restoration and protection. The cohort will be administered through the Minnesota River Board (MRB), established in 1995 with a goal of focusing water management efforts on the local level.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance is a Joint Powers Organization consisting of nine member Counties and Soil and Water Conservation Districts encompassing the Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Watonwan River Watersheds. This project will enable the Alliance to continue to provide staff and add capacity in the areas of technical assistance, education and outreach.
Provide education, outreach and civic engagement necessary for the development of structural and non-structural best management practices needed to improve water quality within the Greater Blue Earth River Basin. General Education will have a regional focus to landowners. Outreach effort will be focused on regional officials, staff and landowners. Civic engagement efforts will have a smaller watershed scale focus with efforts resulting in structural BMPs being placed on the land and non-structural BMPs being adopted. Implementation of structural best management practices on the land.
The purpose of this project is to develop a framework to implement best management practices (BMPs) on ditches in headwater areas utilizing a partnership between drainage staff and the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA). By replacing failing side-inlets with an alternative design, we can make strides towards our water quality and water quantity goals. The alternative inlets serve to prevent sediment and phosphorus from washing downstream and the design can also alleviate peak flows by temporarily storing stormwater.
The Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) along with Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Counties, landowners, and drainage authorities in the ten member counties will install conservation drainage practices to improve water quality. 103E drainage systems with documented sediment or water quality issues are the focus with the goal of installing 52 practices such as improved side inlets (grade stabilization structures), alternative tile inlets, denitrifying bioreactors, saturated buffers, storage wetlands and others.
This project will further assess the water quality within Brown County by monitoring its rivers, streams, ditches and other waterbodies. This project will also be working in cooperation with individual volunteers to perform grab samples and visual assessments of seven waterbodies throughout Brown County.
The Watonwan Watershed Technician will provide highly focused targeting of conservation programs and practices. The technician will enhance current staff capabilities in the Watonwan watershed by collecting landowner contact information from previous studies and GIS methods, produce mass mailings about funding opportunities, and meet one-on-one with landowners to discuss their conservation concerns. The technician will implement 45 projects/practices over a three year period.
With the completion of LiDAR data in southern Minnesota, it is imperative to use this data as effectively as possible. In order to do so, the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Alliance (GBERBA) will contract with a vendor to complete a Geographic Information System (GIS) terrain analysis in subsheds of the Watonwan River watershed. This inventory will utilize the State of Minnesota LiDAR elevation datasets to create many GIS datasets by spatially analyzing the elevation data.
The Watonwan Watershed Resource Specialist has been funding with Clean Water funds since 2012. Since that time, the Watonwan Watershed Resource Specialist has been a crucial connector between landowners and natural resource professionals in the Watonwan Watershed. As the technical ability and responsibilities of the WWRS expands, the need and urgency to secure extended funding becomes a priority. This project will fund half of the Watonwan Watershed Research Specialist position through year 2020.
In conjunction with the Watonwan Major Watershed Project engagement process, create a contact strategy for community/landowner opportunities, obstacles, and opinions on land management and water quality that will result in the identification of restoration and protection strategies for the Watonwan River watershed.