Wabasha Soil and Water Conservation District, in conjunction with Wabasha Natural Resources Conservation Service field office and Farm Service Agency field office, will complete 75 compliance checks and writing or rewriting Highly Erodable Lands plans throughout Wabasha county. Technical staff, upon completion, will partner with landowners to coordinate potential future funding to increase conservation on the land and increase water quality in streams and groundwater through Best Management Practices placement.
The Accelerated Water Quality Project Implementation Program will increase the connection between landowners, local government units and the landscape to accelerate efforts addressing non-point source loading to surface waters throughout the Red River Valley Conservation Service Area.
The AgBMP Loan Program provides needed funding for local implementation of clean water practices at an extremely low cost, is unique in its structure, and is not duplicated by any other source of funding. The AgBMP loan program provides 3% loans through local lenders to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses. Funds are used for proven practices that prevent non-point source water pollution or solve existing water quality problems.
Widseth Smith Nolting (WSN) will evaluate and recommend to MPCA groundwater monitoring staff prospective sites/locations for the installation of groundwater monitoring wells to evaluate contaminant/pollutant concentrations from various sources. Peer will oversee the installation of monitoring wells by retaining a state drilling contractor or preparing bid documents to retain well driller through the Department of Administration. Superfund staff will assist in the project by providing oversight of contractual requirements and provide technical assistance as needed.
Peer Engineering, Inc. (Peer) will evaluate and recommend to MPCA groundwater monitoring staff prospective sites/locations for the installation of groundwater monitoring wells to evaluate contaminant/pollutant concentrations from various sources. Peer will oversee the installation of monitoring wells by retaining a state drilling contractor or preparing bid documents to retain well driller through the Department of Administration. Superfund staff will assist in the project by providing oversight of contractual requirements and provide technical assistance as needed.
The occurrences of contaminants including antibiotics, other pharmaceuticals, and personal care products in the environment have gained increasing attention in recent years because of their potential health and ecological impacts. However, serious gaps remain in our understanding of these contaminants and the significance of the threats they may pose, such as to drinking water. Through this appropriation scientists at the University of St.
Aquatic invasive species pose critical ecological and economic challenges for the entire state and beyond. They can cause irreparable harm to fisheries and aquatic habitat as well as damage to infrastructure. The problems posed by aquatic invasive species continue to grow as existing infestations expand and new exotic species arrive, most of which are poorly understood. New ideas and approaches are needed to develop real solutions.
The DNR is working with local communities and an interagency team to define, prioritize, and establish groundwater management areas in Minnesota. Groundwater management areas will have increased data collection and monitoring that allow the state and local communities to understand water supplies, uses, limitations, and threats to natural resources that depend on groundwater. This information will support detailed aquifer protection plans that ensure equitable and sustainable groundwater and drinking water use for the future.
Working with the Metropolitan Council, the University of Minnesota - Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) is investigating the opportunity for water conservation by private industrial water users across the Twin Cities metropolitan region. Private industrial water users are defined as industries that use private wells for their water supply. This work is determining factors that encourage or create barriers for implementation of identified industrial water conservation opportunities.
Bees play a key role in ecosystem function and in agriculture, including more than one hundred U.S. crops either need or benefit from pollinators. However, bee pollinators are in dramatic decline in Minnesota and throughout the country. One of the potential causes appears to be a scarcity of bee-friendly flowers, particularly in urban areas, which is leading to nutritional deficiencies, chronic exposure to pesticides, and debilitating diseases and parasites.
Recent efforts by Carver County Water Management Organization Staff have centered on removing point sources of bacteria in both Bevens and Carver Creeks. These efforts have shown improvement in water quality; however the creeks are still above the state standard for E. coli. Early results from field surveys have pinpointed areas where livestock have uncontrolled access to streams. Five sites over a twenty mile stretch of Bevens Creek have shown evidence of livestock access to streams and associated damage to streambanks.
Garlic mustard is a non-native, invasive plant species that is severely threatening native plant communities and degrading wildlife habitat in forest and riparian zones throughout the state. The plant is considered the highest priority species for development of long-term management solutions such as biological control, which involves using natural enemies of a non-native species from its native region to control or reduce the impact of the species in the areas where they are invasive.
In 2002 and 2004, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency listed Bluff Creek for turbidity and biological integrity. A Total Maximum Daily Load report and implementation plan were finalized and approved in 2013. This project was identified as a high priority site for culvert restoration and bank repairs.
The Briggs Lake Chain Association (BLCA) is one of Sherburne County's most proactive lake associations. This sub-grant will provide for approximately 20-30 stormwater reduction best management practices on strategically targeted parcels previously identified as contributing to degraded water quality through Total Maximum Daily Loads, aerial lakeshore analysis and site-reviews conducted by the BLCA.
The Burandt Lake Stormwater Reuse System (BLSRS) project will install a water reuse system to capture untreated storm water and reduce pollutants entering Burandt Lake. This collaborative project with Carver County, Carver County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), City of Waconia and Independent School District 110 will retain and reuse an estimated 48% of the annual storm water runoff (1.25 million gallons) currently generated from eight acres of adjacent residential neighborhoods.
This project will increase the ability of the Carver County Water Management Organization (CCWMO) to approach local community partners and fund projects that treat stormwater runoff at the source instead of treating stormwater downstream at a regional pond or through other large scale best management practices (BMPs). The CCWMO will target three geographic areas that have demonstrated strong community involvement, effective partner relationships, and support for the goal of improving water quality of locally impaired waters or regionally significant water body.
Carver County Staff will monitor Silver Creek at station S000-843 following the basic monitoring regime. S000-843 is located in the Lower Minnesota subwatershed in southeastern Carver County. The monitoring will be conducted from 2014 to 2015 and include 13 site visits in 2014; collecting TSVS, TSS, Total P, Ammonia-N, TKN, NO2+NO3, Sulfate, Chloride, and Hardness as CaCO3 ten times. E.coli will be collected nine times in 2014.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a Joint Powers Agreement with Wadena County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Wadena County SWCD is partnering with 13 counties that make up the "Central Sands" region.
The goals of the program are to evaluate the effectiveness of agricultural conservation practices, identify underlying processes that affect water quality, and develop technologies to target critical areas of the landscape. Funded projects provide current and accurate scientific data on the environmental impacts of agricultural practices and help to develop or revise agricultural practices that reduce environmental impacts while maintaining farm profitability.
The overall goal is to develop a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) Report and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Study that will address water quality impairments and maintain or improve water quality throughout the Clearwater River watershed. The study will identify sources of pollutants to the streams and lakes, allocate pollution reduction goals, and prioritize and identify implementation strategies to maintain or improve water quality in key lakes and streams in the watershed.
Enrollment of private lands in conservation programs can provide important natural resource and other public benefits by taking the lands out of production so that they can provide various wildlife, water quality, and ecological benefits. This appropriation is enabling the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources to continue to provide grants to local soil and water conservation districts for employment of technical staff to assist private landowners in implementing conservation programs.
Grassland ecosystems evolved to depend on periodic disturbances, such as fire and grazing, to maintain their health and stability. Periodic disturbances help control invasive species, add nutrients back into the soil, germinate plant seeds, enhance wildlife habitat, and more. In Minnesota habitat managers have used fire as a disturbance tool for decades but the use of grazing has been much rarer, mostly because of a lack of necessary infrastructure such as fencing.
The purchase of conservation easements—restrictions on land use that protect natural features while keeping land in private ownership—has proven to be an effective means to protect land at a lower initial cost than full state ownership. However, once an easement is purchased there are ongoing stewardship, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities necessary to ensure the terms of the agreement between the easement holder and the landowner are met.
The goal of this project is to develop a core team of wastewater professionals and academics engaged in understanding and solving wastewater-related problems in Minnesota, with national relevance. The team will promote the use of new technology, designs and practices to address existing and emerging wastewater treatement challenges, including the treatement of wastewater for reuse and the emergence of new and unregulated contaminants.
Appropriations to non-state entities must be made through a formal contract with a state entity that manages all of the funds for the project on a reimbursement basis. This appropriation to Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) funds the expenses incurred by the DNR in contracting, contract management, and expense re-imbursement for most of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund appropriations made to non-state entities, including both new projects funded during the biennium and existing projects funded in previous bienniums.
Terrestrial invasive plants such as buckthorn, wild parsnip, garlic mustard, and others are becoming widespread threats throughout many sites in Minnesota. Present chemical and mechanical control methods tend to be costly, effective only in the short-term, or have other negative environmental impacts. However, an alternative practice of using grazing animals for invasive species management is used successfully in many parts of the western United States.
The DNR works with the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) to convey valuable geologic and groundwater information and interpretations to government units at all levels, but particularly to local governments, private organizations and citizens. The MGS focuses on geology (Part A reports) and DNR focuses on groundwater (Part B reports). These provide useful information for projects completed by community planners, industry, agriculture, citizens and state agencies related to groundwater.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1979 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This portion, called Part A and conducted by the Minnesota Geological Survey, collects geologic information to produce maps and databases that define aquifer boundaries and the connection of aquifers to the land surface and surface water resources.
The Minnesota County Geologic Atlas program is an ongoing effort begun in 1979 that is being conducted jointly by the University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Geological Survey and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This portion, called Part B and conducted by the DNR, analyzes water samples to understand water chemistry and sensitivity to pollution.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers grants to counties for Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) program administration and special projects to improve SSTS compliance rates, and assistance for low-income homeowners with needed SSTS upgrades. The MPCA will determine grant allocations based on applications review; funds will flow to counties through the Board of Water and Soil Resources' Natural Resources Block Grants.
The County Well Index (CWI) contains well and boring records wells within Minnesota; over 400,000 records. It is the principal source of well construction information and geologic interpretations of well records and also contains soil boring records, mineral exploration test hole records, and scientific/research test hole records.
This is a legislatively mandated project. In order to receive $1,075,000 in water recreation account appropriations for enhancing public water access facilities in FY 2014 and FY 2015 respectively, the commissioner must develop design standards and best management practices specifically for improving water quality by avoiding shoreline erosion and runoff for water accesses.
Asian carp pose a real and serious threat to Minnesota’s aquatic ecosystems. While there are a few instances of individual carp being found in Minnesota waters, including the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers, it is not presently believed that there are significant established populations in the state. In order to quickly and effectively respond to threats posed by Asian carp in the future, though, detailed information about the fish themselves is needed.
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.
New invasive plant species continue to emerge in Minnesota and will pose ongoing threats to Minnesota’s economy, ecology, and environment if able to spread across the state. It is cheapest, easiest, and least harmful to find and control small populations of invasive plants before they become widespread.
The Elk River Watershed Association Joint Powers Board, via the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District, will utilize project funds to implement a pasture and manure management program which will provide technical and financial assistance to large animal/hobby farm owners. Staff will work with identified landowners to implement bacteria reduction best practices such as pasture renovation/management, riparian buffer strips, clean water diversions, vegetated buffer strips, and manure management including composting structures.
This project will determine the magnitude and frequency of contamination from endocrine active compounds (EAC's) and other contaminants of emerging concern in shallow groundwater in non-agricultural areas of Minnesota. EACs and other contaminants of emerging concern in this study include compounds typically found in waste water, including, pharmaceutical compounds, antibiotics, and hormones. This project supports the third phase, including laboratory analysis of samples for an additional 80 wells to be sampled by MPCA staff.
Minnesota has 9.5 million acres of public forest lands that play an important role in sustaining Minnesota’s environment and economy. The policies and programs used by public timber sale programs can impact post-harvest ecological conditions and have pronounced effects on the composition, structure, and productivity of the forest in the future. Additionally, timber harvesting revenues play an important role in economic activity, employment, and tax revenue.
Over 527,000 acres of unmanaged woodlands are being used for livestock grazing throughout Minnesota. Managing these grazed woodlands based on the use of best management practices can provide environmental and economic opportunities, including improved water quality, maximized forage production, and higher-quality timber. The best management practices involved are commonly used in other parts of the country with other types of ecosystems, but have not been widely adopted in Minnesota due to a lack of knowledge and experience with implementing them within the ecosystems of Minnesota.