Watershed Connections - October 2018

Watershed Connections

October 2018

Lessard-Sams recommends $118 million for 38 proposals

clean water land and legacy logo

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council made its funding recommendations on Sept. 27, in which 38 programs totaling nearly $118.4 million will be forwarded to the 2019 Legislature for final decisions. The council initially received 45 proposals totaling $264 million. It rejected funding for some proposals and recommended partial funding for others. The council recommendations ranged from $737,000 to the Stearns Soil and Water Conservation District for a dam fish passage on the Sauk River to $9.98 million to the Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL) Grants Program administered by the MN DNR. The council makes annual funding recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature on money from the Outdoor Heritage Council, which is funded by the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.

RFPs issued for communications, measurement, reporting

The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has posted two request for proposals: Communication Process Development and implementation, and Outdoor Heritage Fund Outcomes Analysis, Measurement, and Reporting. Deadlines are Oct. 22, and Nov. 9, respectively. Details are located on LSOHC webpage.

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Do you have water quality data to share?

water monitoring

The MPCA is asking for your data to help assess the condition of lakes and streams and build a national database of water quality. It is specifically interested in the following priority watersheds because the agency will be determining whether these water bodies meet state water quality standards in early 2019:

  • Blue Earth River
  • Cottonwood River
  • Lower Rainy River
  • North Fork Crow River
  • Pomme de Terre River
  • Rainy River – Rainy Lake
  • Rapid River
  • Redwood River
  • Snake River (St. Croix basin)

The MPCA is also looking for data on the St. Croix River main stem and the Lower Mississippi River main stem from St. Anthony Falls to the Iowa border. If you have data from outside a priority watershed or one of these areas, the agency will also accept it.

The MPCA will use your data to:

  • Help plan for future monitoring efforts including what to monitor for and where to monitor.
  • Identify pollutant “stressors” that are causing or contributing to problems or threats to fishing, swimming, and recreational uses.
  • Evaluate the success of ongoing activities to protect and restore water quality.

Deadline: Submit project, lab, and field data now through Nov. 1.
Deadline: By Dec. 17 you will need to review the data entered by the MPCA. Find out more on the MPCA's surface water data website. For more information on submitting data:

  • Nancy Flandrick, 651-757-2361 (St. Paul, Rochester and Mankato regional offices)
  • Jean Garvin, 651-757-2378 (Marshall and Detroit Lakes regional offices)
  • Mary Knight, 651-757-2424 (Brainerd and Duluth Lakes regional offices)

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Soil health expert to keynote MASWCD convention Dec. 9-11

buzz kloot

The 2018 Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual convention will be Dec. 9-11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Bloomington-Minneapolis South hotel in Bloomington. The convention will include recognition for outstanding SWCDs and individuals, breakout sessions, a trade show and silent auction, and a keynote address from renowned soil health expert Dr. Robin “Buz” Kloot of the University of South Carolina (Soil Health Lab photo). Register online. 

Kloot started his professional life as a chemical engineer and spent 12 years in the mining and mineral processing industry in Namibia. In 1999, he joined the University of South Carolina and has been involved in various projects related to agriculture and environmental quality. His passion for soils has moved him into the roles of storytelling through video. His documentary, “Under Cover Farmers” and his series on the “Science of Soil Health” and “The International Year of Soils” are examples of his work and passion. He is currently an associate professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Dept. at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health and holds degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and an MBA and PhD from the University of South Carolina.

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11th Minnesota River Congress Nov. 8 in New Ulm

Minnesota River Congress logo

The 11th Minnesota River Congress will be Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Turner Hall in New Ulm. The Networking Fair begins at 4:30 p.m. with exhibits from a variety of organizations, followed by dinner at 6 and program at 7. This Congress is being framed as a targeted convocation of Minnesota River Basin SWCDs, Watershed Districts, and other water governance organizations. The primary purpose for focusing on water agency staff and governors is to identify possible basin-wide initiatives and strategies that could be implemented by the local water agencies as partners with a basin wide coordination body led by the Minnesota River Congress. The meeting will consist of two parts:

1. Sharing by the Minnesota River Congress of an example basin-wide strategy such as ravine to floodplain restoration from the current old growth wooded vegetation that has been established since European settlement to a more erosion resistant vegetation cover.

2. Small group discussion to identify a list of other basin-wide strategies that could be best implemented through a partnership process that incudes basin-wide funding and planning with local implementation including local planning, design, and project completion.

Cost: $20 per person; Network Fair exhibit table, $30. Young adults under 19 or with a college ID for free. Make checks payable to CCMR (Coalition for a Minnesota River) PO Box 488, New Ulm, MN 56073. Register online. To register for the Networking Fair contacting the coordinator Scott Sparlin directly at sesparlin@gmail.com, 507-276-2280.

Spirit of Water celebration being planned for 2019

An event called the “Spirit of Water” is being planned for September 2019. The plan is to have the celebration on the banks of the Minnesota River at the Riverfront Park in Mankato. The focus of the event is on the importance of water and the many ways people use and value water from all walks of life. This will include artistic expressions through painting, sculpture, music, poetry, and also to include how we depend on water for recreation, food, our health, as well as bringing educational components such as conservation practices and the relationship of water within our environment. It will honor and recognize the important role which water plays in the church and spiritual communities in southern Minnesota.

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MPCA offers Smart Salting training and certification

Use less salt on pavement

Have you considered what happens to the tons of salt spread on our roads, parking lots, and sidewalks each winter? Most ends up in lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Just one teaspoon of salt permanently pollutes five gallons of water. Our fresh water lakes and rivers are getting saltier and saltier. It harms the fish, bugs, and other aquatic life.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Smart Salting trainings will teach how to effectively keep roads, parking lots, and sidewalks safe while protecting Minnesota’s iconic lakes and rivers. The training can also save money: Many previous participants have reduced their salt use by 30 to 70 percent.

We offer a Level 1 (individual) and Level 2 (organizational) Smart Salting certification for both private and public sector participants. Level 1 includes a roads class and a parking lots/sidewalks class. The Level 2 certification features an assessment tool which aids in budget planning and communicating with public officials or others who provide funding for maintenance work.

Visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting training webpage for more information on upcoming trainings: https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/salt-application-training#road-maintenance-a2ce9349

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ALJ approves majority of Groundwater Protection Rule

Groundwater vulnerability areas

An Administrative Law Judge has approved a majority of the proposed Groundwater Protection RuleReport on the Groundwater Protection Rule from the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This report approves the primary provisions of the proposed Groundwater Protection Rule. The Dept. of Agriculture will review the ruling and consider the appropriate changes as recommended by the ALJ.

A comment period was open from April 30 to Aug. 22, 2018. The comment period was conducted by an ALJ and all comments were submitted to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). During this time five public hearings were held around the state. More than 3,000 comments were submitted during the comment period. There were 92 written comments, 40 people testified at five rule hearings and over 2,900 form letters submitted to OAH. There were an additional six comments submitted during the rebuttal period.

Comments submitted during the comment period and rebuttal periodcan be viewed on OAH's rulemaking website.

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Waste to Worth 2019 seeks presentations, posters

waste to worth 2019 logo

A livestock industry "Waste to Worth" conference is scheduled for April 22–26, 2019 at the Graduate Hotel, Minneapolis. The deadline for presentation proposals is Nov. 15. Waste to Worth brings together the nation’s best science on animal agriculture and the environment with Innovative outreach, opportunities to meet and network with multidisciplinary specialists in a collaborative atmosphere. Organizers are accepting submissions for oral and poster presentations, as well as panel discussions and workshops. Submissions will be reviewed for quality and fit with the conference goals, and time availability in the program. Graduate and undergraduate students can submit a proposal for a poster of original or innovative research, extension/outreach, or educational programs to be considered for the Ron Sheffield Memorial Student Poster Competition. It is being organized by universities with the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center.

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Wetland Reserve Easements funding opportunity

Producers who are enrolled in or would like to apply for the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) have access to Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) funds to restore, enhance or construct a wetland on their property in order to benefit water quality. Under WRE, participants can receive 100% of restoration costs and 100% of the easement value while retaining ownership and control of access to the land.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact your local Area Certification Specialist or Soil and Water Conservation DistrictThe application deadline is undetermined at this time, but those interested are encouraged to not delay in applying.

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News briefs

Risberg named statewide coordinator of MPCA's watershed approach

Jeff Risberg has been named the MPCA Watershed Program Coordinator for statewide coordination of policies, procedures, and guidance development in the Minnesota Watershed Approach for the Watershed Division. He will also be managing the division’s local water planning and One Watershed One Plan efforts including final guidance and TEMPO routing/tracking. Previously, Jeff was the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program development coordinator, then was assigned to TEMPO transformation team, and now will be providing planning services for ongoing program development.  He will be working with division staff/management as well as other state agency staff, including the Clean Water Coordinators Marcy Westrick at BWSR and Barbara Weisman at DNR. Jeff will also serve on the Interagency WRAPS Implementation Team along with Jim Courneya from the MPCA.

Minnesota NRCS updates website path

The Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has updated it's website software. Please replace your current bookmarks with this address to get the most current information. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/mn/home/

USDA-NRCS extends Mississippi River basin initiative five years

The USDA announced plans to extend the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative for five years. The Initiative has provided targeted water quality funding and technical resources to agricultural producers in the areas that need it most. NRCS works with producers to implement conservation practices that prevent runoff of sediment and nutrients. Watersheds eligible for fiscal year 2019 funding include Green Lake and Lower South Fork of the Root River. Goose Lake has been added as a new watershed for the readiness phase. Through USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project, cropland models demonstrate that conservation on cropland throughout the entire Mississippi River basin has reduced nitrogen and sediment loading to the Gulf of Mexico by 28 percent and 45 percent, respectively, over what would be lost without conservation systems in place. Agricultural producers interested in learning more are encouraged to contact their local USDA service center or visit the NRCS national website at www.nrcs.usda.gov.

10th annual Cannon River watershed cleanup a success

More than 200 volunteers picked up more than 8,000 pounds of litter, including tires, tarps, sign posts, and appliances at the 10th Annual Cannon River Watershed-Wide CleanUp on Sept. 15 in Owatonna, Medford, Faribault, Waterville, Shields Lake, Northfield (2 sites), Cannon Falls, and Welch. Several businesses, including the Faribault Woolen Mill and Henkel put together workplace teams to help with the CleanUP. See cleanup photos and more on the newly revised CRWP website.

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WaterFront Bulletin - October

waterfront bulletin

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