The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) approved $12.7 million in Clean Water Fund grants Dec. 16 to improve water quality in streams, lakes and groundwater across the state.
Most of the grant funding is allocated for voluntary conservation projects across Minnesota, including funding for projects that focus on improving and protecting drinking water.
“Clean water is fundamental to the health and well-being of the people who call Minnesota home,” says John Jaschke, BWSR executive director. “These grants will improve water quality throughout the state, advancing the Clean Water Fund’s goal to make more of our waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”
The $12.7 million will fund 31 grants dedicated to specific projects and practices. Four grants will support multipurpose drainage management, and four grants will focus on projects that specifically address drinking water issues.
For example, the Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District will use a $386,000 projects and practices grant to protect Forest Lake by restoring approximately 1.5 acres of wetlands. Forest Lake is one of the top recreational lakes in the Twin Cities metro area, and it supports a diverse and healthy fishery and three public accesses.
Other projects and practices grants include:
• South Branch Buffalo River Watershed Restoration. Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), Otter Tail and Wilkin counties, $ 350,000 grant. BRRWD will partner to install 50 sediment best management practices including water and sediment control basins, grade stabilization structures and grassed waterways to address sediment loading to the South Branch Buffalo River. The highest-priority gullies have been identified. When these 50 gullies are stabilized, sediment loading within the watershed will be reduced by 2,800 tons per year, and total phosphorus will be reduced by 310 pounds per year.
• Fairmont Chain of Lakes. Martin County, $882,000 grant. The project goal is to reduce pollutant loading to Amber Lake, which is within the Drinking Water Source Management Area for the city of Fairmont. In recent years, there have been concerns with high nitrate concentrations entering drinking water sources. The project includes design and construction of a sediment and nutrient treatment train, which includes an 11-acre nutrient treatment wetland and an 8,000-linear-foot, two-stage ditch upstream of Amber Lake. The project will reduce 12,827 pounds per year of nitrate, 463 pounds per year of total phosphorus and 29 tons per year of sediment to Amber Lake.
• Pell Creek Turbidity Reduction Project. Cottonwood, Murray and Redwood counties, $648,075 grant. Pell Creek drains 33,171 acres of highly productive agricultural land in these three counties. Extensive subsurface drainage and open ditches are also found here. The proposal will reduce 300 tons of sediment per year through implementation of three water and sediment control basins, two grade stabilization projects and six grassed waterways. This proposed sediment reduction goal would make 100% progress toward the Pell Creek reduction goal and 0.43% toward the interim 25% reduction goal set in the sediment reduction strategy for the Minnesota River Basin.
• Rum River Woodbury House Riverbank Stabilization Project. City of Anoka, $ 1.01 million grant. This project will stabilize 300 linear feet of eroding bank along the Rum River adjacent to the historic Woodbury House site, less than a half-mile upstream of the confluence with the Mississippi River. As a secondary benefit, the project helps protect the historic site. Woodbury House, on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1857 and overlooks the rivers’ confluence. The project will reduce pollutants by 128 tons of sediment and 128 pounds of phosphorus annually.
• The Future of Farming in Becker County. Becker SWCD, $354,915 grant. This project builds resilient agricultural systems and achieves non-point source pollution reductions identified by local and regional water quality monitoring and models. Producers in three distinct, yet connected watersheds of the Red River Basin within Becker County could shift towards sustainable practices that reduce overall inputs in their ag production operation. Participants will eliminate fall tillage and minimize soil disturbance; increase cover and residue; establish living roots through 90% of the growing season; add crop diversity; and incorporate livestock where feasible. With a five-year commitment, producers can select from tiered incentives to incorporate multiple best management practices. The project goal is to enroll 25 producers representing 4,000 acres. It is estimated that these practices will reduce sediment loading by 8,257 tons per year, total phosphorus by 1,338 pounds per year, and nitrogen contributions by 12,855 pounds per year.
One of the multipurpose drainage projects, securing a grant for $210,000, involves work done on Joint Ditch No. 15 in Wright County. The Wright County Drainage Authority and county SWCD will use funds to prevent significant erosion and provide peak flow reductions in the area surrounding Ditch No. 15. The ditch drains into numerous impaired waters such as Sucker Creek, Cokato Lake and eventually, the North Fork Crow River. This proposed project includes the installation of 24 water and sediment control basins and one grade stabilization structure.
Learn more about the grant recipients online at:
• Projects and practices (31 grants)
• Drinking water projects and practices (four grants)
• Multipurpose drainage management (four grants)