Soil health grants; BWSR Snapshots: Clean Water Council Update

View as a webpage  /  Share

Minnesota Clean Water Council

BWSR awards more than $17 million in soil health grants


From the Board of Water and Soil Resources:

"The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) awarded more than $17 million in grant funding to 39 soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) to support soil health efforts throughout the state. The grants will fund supplemental staffing to boost local expertise related to soil health initiatives.

"These grants are part of a large-scale effort to work with landowners to improve soil health. BWSR received $21 million from the state’s general fund and $12 million from the Clean Water Fund during the 2023 legislative session to support soil health programming across the state."

Read Full Story

Upcoming Meetings and Project Updates

Minnesota Clean Water Council

Upcoming Meetings

The Governor made appointments to the Clean Water Council last week. Six incumbent members who re-applied were re-appointed. We are awaiting word on the metro county member who will replace outgoing member Victoria Reinhardt.

Re-Appointed members include:

  • Steve Besser--fishing organizations
  • Rich Biske--environmental organizations
  • Richard Brainerd--municipalities
  • Kelly Gribauval-Hite--business organizations
  • Peter Schwagerl--farm organizations
  • Marcie Weinandt--watershed districts

Full Council: The next meeting is Monday, April 15th (topics: second set of Clean Water Fund proposals for implementation projects for FY26-27 biennium). The packet from the March 18th meeting (topics: final recommendations for FY24-25 supplemental Clean Water Fund recommendations; first set of Clean Water Fund proposals for implementation projects for FY26-27 biennium) has been posted at our web site.

Policy Committee: The next meeting is Friday, April 26th. The packet from the March 22nd meeting (topics: private wells, supplemental budget) has been posted at our web site

Budget & Outcomes Committee: The next meeting is Friday, May 3rd (topic: review of April 15th budget presentations). The packet from the April 5th meeting (topics: review of March 18th budget presentations) has been posted.

Updates on Projects Supported by the Clean Water Fund

April 2024 Snapshots: Metro delistings, Goose Lake improvements, Mille Lacs Lake drone study. BWSR has issued its latest monthly set of project Snapshots.

  • Metro lakes’ delistings tied to Clean Water Fund-backed work: Water-quality improvements in Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington county lakes led to removal from the impaired waters list. Contributing projects included alum treatments, stormwater treatments and a wetland restoration.
  • Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix projects tackle Goose Lake phosphorus load: The watershed district’s Clean Water Fund-backed work with one landowner to install an iron-enhanced sand filter and restore a wetland is designed to improve water quality and clarity.

  • Setting Mille Lacs priorities via Aitkin County SWCD-led drone study: The Aitkin County SWCD with assistance from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe completed a drone study of Mille Lacs Lake’s entire shoreline. Staff used the video footage to identify and prioritize shoreline properties that could benefit from restoration work. Supported by the Clean Water Fund via BWSR's Watershed Based Implementation Funding.

A Collection of Stories from the Source - MN Dept. of Health: The Minnesota Department of Health has published several stories showing how source water protection activities support public water supplies.

Cleveland area farmer participates in project to restore wetlandPractices tied to a larger grant include structures designed to slow and filter runoff, 275 acres of cover crops, and two wetland restorations totaling about 27 acres. 

Supplemental budget request aims to address nitrate-contaminated drinking water - Session Daily - Minnesota House of Representatives: The Clean Water Council presented its $25 million supplemental Clean Water Fund request in the Minnesota House. 

Building Minnesota’s ag weather network ( “With the money coming from the Clean Water Fund, information from these weather stations will help guide agronomic decisions that not only benefit the farmer but also minimize the impacts to water resources by helping those growers better utilize crop inputs and water. The optimization of agronomic decisions protects surface water by preventing off-site movement of pesticides that can drift to nearby surface water, preventing loss of manure and crop chemicals in runoff to surface water; minimizing leaching of nitrate, manure and crop chemicals to groundwater; and maximizing irrigation water usage efficiency.”

Approved RRWMB Water Quality Program Report - March 19, 2024.pdf: The Red River Watershed Management Board issued this report on their water quality efforts, supported by a local levy but multiplied by other sources including the Clean Water Fund. Also see a companion video at RRWMB Water Quality Program Video (

Other Relevant Water News

EPA puts limits on 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | MPR News: "The Environmental Protection Agency announced new drinking water standards Wednesday to limit exposure to a class of chemicals called PFAS."

High nitrate levels in southeastern Minnesota prompt aid plan at state Capitol | MPR News: The Governor's supplemental budget addressing nitrates is described. 

'50 years of promises, all of them broken': Southeastern Minnesotans worry over state water pollution response ( Ongoing coverage of nitrates in southeast Minnesota. 

MN Stormwater News, April 2024: The MPCA sums up the status of water reuse efforts, among other topics.

80% of tested surface water in South Dakota fails to meet state standards • South Dakota Searchlight: South Dakota releases its draft impaired waters list.

Requests Far Outpace Funding for New Soil Health Grant | Minnesota Department of Agriculture: "Demand is high for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s (MDA) new Soil Health Financial Assistance Grant. The MDA recently awarded 81 grants to individual producers, producer groups, and local governments to purchase or retrofit soil health equipment. The grants total over $2.35 million. Interest far outpaced available funding. The MDA received 284 applications for $8.4 million in requests – more than three times the money in this round of grants."

Small solutions to the big phosphorus water quality challenge | MPR News: The City of Halsted in the Red River Basin uses a novel approach to reduce phosphorus effluent that is very cost-effective. 

How a clean transportation fuel standard could impact Minnesota waters - Freshwater Society: From Freshwater: "With the delivery of its report to the Minnesota Legislature last month, the Clean Transportation Standard Work Group created a state policy framework for reducing carbon pollution from transportation fuels. Freshwater strongly supports carbon reduction initiatives and clean fuels. However, we want to watch for unintended negative consequences to the environment and rural communities. A clean transportation standard could either help or hurt water quality – depending on whether it further incentivizes corn ethanol production in Minnesota. We recommended that full impacts to land and water be reviewed more thoroughly, along with careful consideration of how a new state policy might interact with the federal biofuels policy that has so far led to more corn and more agricultural pollution on the landscape."

Minnesota leaders must take steps to protect water quality ( A Northfield resident suggests several steps, including create a Minnesota water commissioner, testing private wells, making monitoring data more accessible to the public, and grading our community public water systems.

LSOHC/OHF Press Release: The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC) yesterday issued its annual Call for Funding Request from the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Approximately $150 million will be available for both metro and statewide grants to aid Minnesota habitat restoration, protection and enhancement. Requests are due Friday, May 24, 2024 at 4 p.m. Funds for approved programs will be available for use starting Monday, July 1, 2025.