Watershed Connections - January 2017

Watershed Connections

January 2017

Gov. Dayton to host 'town hall' water summit Jan. 27 at UMM

water summit dayton

Join Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith for a Town Hall Water Summit Friday, Jan. 27, 9:45 a.m.-4 p.m., at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Registration opens Jan. 6 and the full program is to be announced on that date.

Despite the state’s abundance of lakes, rivers, groundwater and streams, more than 40 percent of Minnesota’s waters are currently listed as impaired or polluted. Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith have declared a Year of Water Action to focus on improving access to clean water across Minnesota.

Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith encourage all Minnesotans to take a role in protecting our state's most precious resource for future generations. Learn more about the Year of Water Action here

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9th annual crop nutrient conference Feb. 7 at St. Cloud

cover crop

The 9th annual Crop Nutrient Management Conference, will be held on Feb. 7, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at River’s Edge Convention Center in St. Cloud. The conference program will focus on nitrogen and phosphorus management with significant emphasis on water quality and economics.

In addition to economics and crop production, nutrient management can also have a major benefit for water quality. It is a major part of Minnesota’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, which was introduced at the 2014 Nutrient Management conference in Mankato. More recently, cover crops and building soil health are receiving greater attention, both for water quality and production benefits. Photo: Cover crop in Renville County soybeans.

The conference is hosted by the Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center (MAWRC) with primary sponsorship from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The conference will highlight recent advances in effective and economical nutrient management presented by University of Minnesota researchers, fertilizer industry experts and state agency officials.

Farmers, crop advisors and other nutrient management professionals are encouraged and invited to attend. The ongoing importance of efficient use of applied crop nutrients relating to farm profitability and food production economics combines with growing interest in the environment.

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Funding round open for nonpoint source pollution projects

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is seeking applications for projects that will reduce nonpoint source pollution in Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Funding for selected projects will be provided by the Federal Clean Water Act Section 319 (Section 319) grant funds. The MPCA will accept applications through Feb. 3. The MPCA anticipates about $2.5 million will be available this year, contingent upon Congressional appropriation.

Only Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) implementation projects will be funded. Eligible applicants must have a TMDL study, TMDL implementation plan, and WRAPS approved by the MPCA by Dec. 31, 2016. No nonpoint source development, education or applied research projects (DER) projects will be funded this year.

Changes this year include a minimum grant request of $50,000. Grant funds are limited and MPCA urges proposers to request only those funds needed to complete a project by Aug. 31, 2021. The complete Request for Grant Application, application form, and other information is available on the MPCA website

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Statewide spring inventory - Help us find Minnesota springs

spring mapping

If you know of springs in your neighborhood or elsewhere, please let the DNR. The DNR has developed a Springs Reporting App to expand the current knowledge of springs. It is gathering information from various agency records and searching public lands, but we need the help of private citizens to make the inventory more comprehensive. The DNR is currently only aware of approximately 5,000 of the possible 22,000 springs statewide.

You can add to inventory using the Minnesota DNR Statewide Spring Inventory App from your mobile device in the field, or from your home computer based on map location or aerial imagery. Spring locations will be available on a Spring Inventory Map after verification by the DNR.

The spring inventory project has developed the procedures and methods for conducting spring mapping statewide. Existing spring information from various agency records is being collected for inclusion in the statewide spring database. The database will contain both reported and verified spring location information and physical, chemical, and historical data for spring sites if available.

Springs have their own aesthetic and historical value that creates a special “sense of place” for local residents and visitors. Preserving springs contributes to a love of the land and an environmental ethic that helps create a Minnesota quality of life. You can’t protect something if there is no public or government awareness of its existence. - Greg Brick, DNR.

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Renville SWCD snares 1,100 acres in cover crop testing

Hawk cover crop field day

Reported by Tom Cherveny, West Central Tribune: Winter can come hard to the Minnesota prairie, but never so early that cover crops cannot be used to improve and protect the soil. "We do have the potential here,'' said Holly Hatlewick, district manager with the Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District. "It is not just something that grows further south. We have that potential to have that living root on the landscape.'' Photo: Holly Hatlewick at the Renville County cover crop field day Sept. 23.

Hatlewick spoke at the Hawk Creek Watershed Project meeting in December in Clara City. She shared the results of the second year of cover crop test plots in Renville County. The Renville County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Hawk Creek Watershed Project have been working with cooperating farmers.

Along with sponsoring test plots for research, the Renville County SWCD offers a cost-share program to encourage farmers to experiment with cover crops on their own. This year roughly 1,100 acres were seeded. Hatlewick is hoping the conservation district and watershed project can continue a third year of test plots in 2017. Along with answering the economic questions surrounding cover crops, the test plots are helping acquaint staff and local farmers with the real-life challenges that need to be overcome. Full story in West Central Tribune, Dec. 14.

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SAM offers user-friendly tool for creating watershed models

Using complex models to create various scenarios for watershed planning is no longer the exclusive domain of engineers and other experts. Scenario Application Manager is a new tool that allows watershed staff and involved citizens to use HSPF models without having to manipulate its inner workings. With a Clean Water Legacy grant administered by the MPCA, RESPEC Engineering created the watershed-scale decision support tool to facilitate prioritization and placement of best management practices (BMPs) needed to achieve the necessary reductions identified by various watershed management programs.

SAM consists of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for site selection, and Hydrological Simulation Program – Fortran (HSPF) model application to simulate the transport of pollutants. SAM provides decision makers with a user friendly, comprehensive approach to achieve water quality improvement goals with the greatest water-quality benefits for dollar invested. Training sessions have been under way in several watersheds, including the Yellow Medicine.....  SAM video on YouTube.

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Friends of the Minnesota Valley plan River Watch program

river watch

Friends of the Minnesota Valley is planning to launch a River Watch program in the Minnesota River Basin. River Watch monitoring will take place on the main channel and the tributary rivers and streams of the basin. The planned River Watch program is modeled after a very successful program based in the Red River Valley and operated by the International Water Institute. To learn more about the River Watch Program on the Red River, go to http://www.iwinst.org/education/participate

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Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit opens Jan. 7 at Lanesboro

Lanesboro historic dam

Lanesboro is the next stop for the Smithsonian Water/Ways travelling exhibit Jan. 7 through Feb. 19. Lanesboro Arts, Commonweal Theatre Company, Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, Lanesboro Museum, and Friends of the Root River are partnering to develop and present dynamic local programs and engagement initiatives that will bring together the storyline of the Root River Watershed. These activities will run concurrently with the exhibits from the Smithsonian Institute and the Minnesota Humanities Center.

Opening day Jan. 7 begins with a “water blessing” ceremony at 3 p.m. at the Lanesboro Dam (photo), followed by a 4 p.m. reception at the Lanesboro Arts Exhibition Gallery. The opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting will be at 7:30 p.m. at Commonweal Theater. A host of special events are scheduled through Feb. 19, such as: Jan. 19-fish snow sculpture, Jan. 21-candlelight snowshoe, Feb. 4-family sled dog day, and Feb. 16-18-H2O Ten, eight short plays about water. The entire list is available on the Minnesota Humanities Center-Lanesboro Arts webpage. See a collection of Lanesboro water stories on the We Are Water: Lanesboro webpage.

Water/Ways is a traveling exhibition and community engagement initiative of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. In Minnesota, Water/Ways is led by the Minnesota Humanities Center in partnership with MPCA, Minnesota a Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Section of the American Water Works Association. Previously, the exhibit visited New London-Spicer, St. Peter, Red Wing, and Sandstone. The tour concludes Feb. 25-April 9 at Detroit Lakes.

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News briefs

BWSR approves comprehenive watershed plans for Yellow Medicine and Root rivers

Marking a new era in Minnesota water planning, on Dec. 14 the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) approved comprehensive watershed management plans for the Root and the Yellow Medicine rivers. These are the first two plans completed through BWSR’s One Watershed, One Plan program. The initiative brings together a partnership of counties, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and watershed districts to create a shared action plan for water management.

The roots of the program were conceived by a consortium of local governments seeking to streamline water planning requirements in Minnesota. More information about the One Watershed One Plan program, including its guiding principles and plan outcomes, as well as a map of the participating watersheds, can be found at BWSR’s website: www.bwsr.state.mn.us. Read full news release.

Yellow Medicine SWCD seeks district manager

The Yellow Medicine SWCD office in Clarkfield is accepting applications for district manager until Jan. 31. This position requires a strong managerial and administrative background and reports to the Yellow Medicine Soil and Water Conservation District Board. Performs management functions for the district and ensures program implementation. For more information check out the job announcement.

RFP for research on ag conservation practices to reduce nutrient loss

The Dept. of Agriculture announces a request for proposals for research to quantify agricultural conservation practice effectiveness related to nutrient source reduction, off-movement, and treatment. Applications must be submitted using the format prescribed in the proposal instructions. To request proposal instructions and to receive application materials, please e-mail for the full RFP, which will be sent free of charge to interested parties. Contact: Heidi Peterson, Impaired Waters Technical Coordinator, 625 Robert Street N., St. Paul, MN 55155-2538; Email: Heidi.Peterson@state.mn.us.
Additional information, including research priorities, is available in the Jan. 3, 2017 State Register (see page 846 or 22).

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Iowa reports on stream nutrient monitoring

iowa stream monitoring

DES MOINES -- A 2016 report of Iowa’s water monitoring efforts for nutrients highlights both the complexity and long-term value of evaluating nutrient levels in Iowa’s lakes, streams and rivers. 

Developed jointly by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Department of Natural Resources, with the support of Iowa State University and the University of Iowa IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering Center, the report is the first of its kind in Iowa and includes a comprehensive list of surface water monitoring efforts specific to nutrients.

The report was developed in support of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and is available at www.nutrientstrategy.iastate.edu/documents underneath the heading "Supplemental Documents." More.

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