Watershed Connections - July 2016

Watershed Connections

July 2016

Governor to address water quality forum at Farmfest Aug. 3

2011 farmfest

Gov. Mark Dayton is scheduled to be a keynote speaker at Farmfest Aug. 3. He will be joined by Scott VanderWal, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president, on discussing buffers, Waters of the US, and other water quality issues starting at 1:15 p.m. Following their addresses there will be a panel discussion moderated by Jerry Groskreutz, KDHL Farm Director. Panel members include:

  • Don Parrish, Senior Policy Analyst, American Farm Bureau.
  • Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union.
  • Rep. Paul Torkelson.
  • Lawrence Sukalski, Board Member, American Soybean Growers Assn.
  • Kirby Hettver, Secretary, Minnesota Corn Growers Assn.
  • Warren Formo, Executive Director, Minnesota Ag water Resource Center.
  • Dave Weirens, Assistant Director, Board of Water and Soil Resources.
  • Matthew Wohlman, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture.

Farmfest features more than 500 exhibitors, special events, political discussion, and innovations in Minnesota agriculture. The 50-acre site is located on Hwy. 67 southeast of Redwood Falls, and adjacent to the Gilfillan Estate. Days and hours are: Tuesday, Aug. 2: 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wednesday, Aug. 3: 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Thursday, Aug. 4: 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are available at the gate or online. Photo: Gov. Mark Dayton, second from left, chats with Farmfest attendees in 2011.

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Water/Ways exhibit opens Aug. 13 at St. Peter

st peter logo

The next installment of the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit opens Aug. 13 through Sept. 25 at the Nicollet County Historical Society in St. Peter. Starting at 9 a.m. there will be remarks and light refreshments. The exhibit's first stop is June 25-Aug. 7 at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, west of Spicer.

Water/Ways is a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian's Museum on Main Street program. It is accompanied by a variety of interactive exhibits created by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Dept. of Health, called 'We are water'. The exhibits reveal the central nature of water in our lives by exploring how Americans use water, how water unites communities, how water affects every element of life, and how Americans care for our water and protect this valuable resource.  The St. Peter story map. Also oFacebook and Twitter

Upcoming Water/Ways schedule:

Oct. 1-Nov. 13: Red Wing, Goodhue County Historical Society.
Nov. 19-Jan. 1, 2017: Sandstone (Pine County), Audubon Center of the North Woods.
Jan. 7-Feb. 19, 2017: Lanesboro (Fillmore County), Lanesboro Arts.
Feb. 25-April 9, 2017: Detroit Lakes (Becker County), Becker County Historical Society.

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Local government water roundtable offers buffer workshops

buffer crow

The Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Association of Minnesota Counties, and Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts, as members of the Minnesota Local Government Water Roundtable, are conducting regional buffer workshops in August. Each workshop will be 1-4 p.m. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. The workshops will be held at eight different locations across the state.

The roundtable workshops will provide the latest buffer information for SWCD, County and Watershed District officials and staff. Agenda items will include overviews on the buffer law amendments, processes, timelines, DNR buffer mapping project and more. Representatives from the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Department of Natural Resources will provide updates on statewide policies and mapping information. There is no charge to attend, but an RSVP is required.

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Pioneer Public TV airs One Watershed One Plan segment

Skuta Pioneer TV

One Watershed One Plan was featured in a public affairs program produced by Pioneer Public TV in Appleton. The Compass segment aired July 3 included reporting by Laura Kay Prosser, and a panel discussion with Glenn Skuta, MPCA Watershed Division director; David Ladd, who represents agricultural groups; and panel moderator Les Heen of Pioneer Public TV.

The wide-ranging discussion touched on issues such as challenges facing small, rural communities dealing with wastewater treatment, impacts of agricultural and urban stormwater runoff, and the role of local water management organizations. The first portion gives an overview of the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit at Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center near Spicer. The 1/2-hour program is available on the Pioneer Public TV Compass web page. Photo: The Pioneer TV production room, with Glenn Skuta in the monitor at right. 

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Soil scientists host drainage and water quality tour

simonson discovery farm

Agricultural drainage and water quality was the focus of the summer tour July 8 of the Minnesota Association of Professional Soil Scientists. The tour visited Simonsen Discovery Farm project near Fairfax in Renville County, and included presentations on soil properties and tile drainage design, Minnesota River water quality, and geomorphology.

Paul Simonsen raises corn, soybean, sweet corn and peas on approximately 375 acres in southeastern Renville County. He has a strong interest in the interaction of agricultural production practices and water quality. The Discovery Farms Minnesota site at Simonsen's farm is designed to provide water quality information on surface water runoff and tile drainage from a field with a corn-soybean rotation and open tile intakes. The Hawk Creek Watershed Project taking care of the monitoring equipment. 

MAPSS was founded in the early 1970s to have an organization by which soil scientists could be certified and be recognized by other professionals such as engineers, etc. Photo: Left to right: Paul Simonsen, Tim Radatz and Jerome Lensing of the Minnesota Ag Water Quality Research Center-Discovery Farms project.

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MPCA posts Clean Water Fund accountability reports

The MPCA has posted a webpage required in the Clean Water Accountability Act (MS 114D.26, subd. 2): “Beginning July 1, 2016, and every other year thereafter, the MPCA must report on its website the progress toward implementation milestones and water quality goals for all adopted Total Maximum Daily Load’s, and where available, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies.” In subsequent years, the reports will be updated, and new reports will be added. Each individual watershed report provides:

  • Summarized description of the watershed
  • Water quality measurements for total phosphorus, total suspended solids, and nitrogen
  • Progress toward load reduction targets for each of the parameters above
  • Most commonly applied best management practices for the watershed
  • Water quality improvement spending totals in the watershed


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'Chen' pedals to raise money for new CURE program

Chen - CURE

Longtime Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) member, Jianhua Qian (Chen), set out July 23 on a bike tour from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River, 420 miles across Iowa, to raise money for a new program at CURE. He is asking for pledges that will help him reach his goal of $5,000. The new program, called "In our own backyard," is aimed at getting people connected with the outdoors and nature. The series will be rooted in work by Aldo Leopold and more recently,  The Nature Principle by Richard Louv. The project will provide individuals the opportunity to learn about the natural world around them one experience at a time.

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$1.9 million awarded through Clean Water Partnership loan program

The Clean Water Partnership Loan Program has recently awarded loans to three projects to reduce pollution by upgrading SSTS in their watersheds. The three projects receive low interest loan funding to provide local stakeholders the funds necessary to upgrade their septic systems.

The Snake River Watershed Management Board was awarded a $400,000 loan for the Snake River Watershed Resource Protection Project in the St. Croix River watershed. This loan will implement 27-33 subsurface sewage treatment system (SSTS) upgrades within the Kanabec County portion of the watershed. 

The Hawk Creek Watershed Project was awarded $1,050,000 in loan funding for SSTS upgrades. This project funds low interest loans to implement 75 SSTS upgrades in the Chippewa, Kandiyohi, and Renville County portions of the Hawk Creek Watershed.

The Heron Lake Watershed District will receive $450,000.00 in loan funding for the Heron Lake TMDL Nutrient Reduction Project. This project will implement 30 SSTS upgrades in the Heron Lake Watershed.

The Clean Water Partnership (CWP) program continues to accept applications from local governmental units interested in loan funding to lead a nonpoint source pollution control project for protection or restoration of Minnesota’s water bodies. Application can be made at any time.  Currently there is no end date for application and there is over $9 million available. The Request for Proposals can be found on the CWP website at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/clean-water-partnership-loans.

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DNR seeks comments on Marsh Lake project EAW

Marsh Lake map

The Dept. of Natural Resources is accepting public comments through Aug. 10 on an environmental assessment worksheet prepared for the Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project, which would restore aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

The project includes construction of a rock-ramp fishway, a water control/drawdown structure, a new dam access road and embankment features, restoration of the Pomme de Terre River to its historic channel, additional parking areas and a location where soils will be borrowed and restored. Modifications to the existing dam structure would provide more natural variability in water levels and also provide habitat connectivity through the rock-ramp fishway.

The document is available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/input/index.html. Under “environmental review,” select “Marsh Lake Ecosystem Restoration Project EAW” from the scroll-down list. DNR news release.

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