Grant help

Riprap armors a stable segment of Whiskey Creek upstream from a road crossing in Connelly Township. A Red River tributary, 30-mile-long Whiskey Creek drains 157 square miles in Wilkin and Otter Tail counties. Three grants were provided to improve water quality to the river.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) approved $12.3 million in Clean Water Fund grants at the Dec. 17 board meeting. The grants will be used to improve water quality in lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater across the state. Most of the grant funding is allocated for voluntary conservation projects across Minnesota, including $646,825 for projects that specifically focus on improving and protecting drinking water. Multipurpose drainage management projects will receive $551,159.

“Throughout Minnesota, local government staff and private landowners are collaborating with the state to make meaningful progress toward improving water quality,” said BWSR executive director, John Jaschke. “These grants are a key component in ongoing efforts to keep our water clean and our lakes, rivers and streams healthy.”

The $12.3 million will fund 37 separate grants that will be awarded to local government entities (soil and water conservation districts, counties, watershed districts, watershed management organizations and cities). Grant funding will support projects and practices that reduce erosion, protect and restore surface water quality in lakes and streams, and protect groundwater. This includes stormwater treatment, shoreline restoration, and treatments that reduce sediment, bacteria, nitrate and phosphorus.

East Otter Tail and Wadena counties were awarded $217,300 for reducing nitrates in drinking water through new irrigation technologies.

Large areas in Otter Tail and Wadena County are at risk of nitrogen contamination due to sandy soils and nitrogen fertilizer use. Irrigation scheduling and fertilizer management need modern updates through variable rate technology and soil moisture sensors to better utilize and inform irrigators of when to fertilize. East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Wadena SWCD will use cost share to help establish precision management for variable rate irrigation in one field, soil-water sensors in 20 fields, and 10 nutrient-management plans for irrigation management on high and medium priority parcels. The SWCD will develop an assessment report detailing local results for variable rate irrigation and soil moisture sensors that will provide results to local landowners and for future projects. It is anticipated that nitrate leaching will be reduced by 9 pounds/acre over at least 2,000 acres totalling 17,800 pounds of nitrate reduction.

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