Minnesota Clean Water Land and Legacy Projects Provide Water Quality Improvements
Working together does make a difference. In 2010 the St. Croix River Association (SCRA) received a grant to improve water quality in the St. Croix River watershed. SCRA role was to offer subgrants to groups for projects that would provide important monitoring data, or reduce the amount of phosphorus running off to Lake St. Croix. Phosphorus is the key ingredient in algae blooms on the St. Croix. SCRA selected for projects that would provide the best and most cost effective results. Two projects were focused on monitoring, and two were implementation projects that will reduce pollution and water runoff to the St. Croix River. The funding for these projects is from the Minnesota Clean Water Land and Legacy program, with SCRA overseeing the projects.
The four projects that were approved represented an investment of $900,000 to benefit the river. Each of the award recipients provided money to match the Legacy program funds, all of which were in Washington County, Minnesota as specified by the legislation. The long-term goal is to reduce the phosphorus that enters the St. Croix River. The river is currently listed impaired for phosphorus by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Top 50 project focused efforts to reduce phosphorus runoff in rural areas, with a goal of achieving 50-100 pounds of phosphorus reduction per year. Priority areas include rural portions of Baytown Township, West Lakeland Township, Lakeland, Lake St. Croix Beach, Afton, and Denmark Township. Water resources in the project area include Kelle’s Coulee, Trout Brook, and intermittent drainageways that discharge directly to the river.
Lake St. Croix Nutrient Loading and Ecological Health Assessment (to view the PDF with Firefox, after opening the link, you may need to click on the download icon in the upper right corner to see the document) Project was an expanded monitoring program which monitored the river flow at Stillwater, and associated field sampling and laboratory analyses of Lake St. Croix phytoplankton, zooplankton, and lakebed sediments. The partners include US Geological Survey, Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, and the Science Museum of Minnesota’s St. Croix Watershed Research Station.
The Green Streets Initiative sponsored by the Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization, worked in the Stillwater and Bayport area to lessen the impacts of urban stormwater runoff. In Bayport, water infiltration structures were built to capture and treat stormwater before discharging to Perro Creek, a direct tributary to Lake St. Croix. In Stillwater, some city street reconstruction projects will increase the ability to better handle stormwater.
Valley Branch Watershed District Outlet Monitoring collected actual flow and phosphorus data at the only two remaining un-monitored discharge points from the Valley Branch watershed into Lake St. Croix. The monitoring resulted in an increased knowledge of current conditions, and will provide proof of whether or not installed management practices are reducing phosphorus levels, and will do so into the future.
SCRA is proud to be part of the team to expand important water quality work in the St. Croix River basin.