The Winona County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) developed this project to help reduce the amount of pathogens and nutrients generated by livestock from reaching surface waters and groundwater by targeting feedlots located in areas that are highly susceptible to groundwater pollution and sinkhole formation.
The Drinking Water Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) program identifies environmental contaminants for which current health-based standards currently do not exist or need to be updated, investigate the potential for human exposure to these chemicals, and develop guidance values for drinking water. Contaminants evaluated by CEC staff include contaminants that have been released or detected in Minnesota waters (surface water and groundwater) or that have the potential to migrate to or be detected in Minnesota waters.
After 6 years of intensive baseline monitoring at 5 edge-of-field sites, 1 intermittent and 3 in-stream sites in 3 sub-watersheds representing the geomorphic regions of the Root River, the second phase of the project is well prepared for the implementation of BMPs. Continued monitoring will be used to measure the effectiveness of the BMPs for the next 6 years. In preparation for BMP implementation, extensive planning was completed using LiDAR terrain analysis and the Tomer Framework to prioritize practices.
Ninety percent of the land in Mower County is used for agriculture. The County ranks 10th and 13th in the State for corn and bean production, making much of the land vulnerable to erosion due to the planting of row crop. As a result, streams and ditches in the county see high sediment loads.
This project will, over a 27 month period, fund a 0.75 Full Time Equivalent Conservation Planning Specialist position to update approximately 400 United States Department of Agriculture Highly Erodable Lands conservation plans on 40,000 acres in high priority areas within the Root River watershed. Currently, only 5% of the USDA conservation plans -approximately 40 per year - are being checked for compliance, and this project will increase that number to 150 or more per year.
Approximately 70 percent of all Minnesotans rely on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. Wells used for drinking water must be properly sealed when removed from service to protect both public health and Minnesota’s invaluable groundwater resources. The Minnesota Department of Health protects both public health and groundwater by assuring the proper sealing of unused wells.
Clean Water funds are being provided to well owners as a 50% cost-share assistance for sealing unused public water-supply wells.
The lack of sewage treatment in many small communities in Southeast Minnesota is causing surface water and groundwater pollution. Fourteen of these small communities will receive technical assistance provided by this project. These communities have community or individual straight pipes which are discharging raw sewage directly to the environment, surfacing sewage, or have sewage contaminating groundwater.