'Our water is our diamond'

Two lakes in the Chisago Lakes Chain of Lakes could soon be removed from the Impaired Waters List. After 10 years and more than $2.2 million in water-quality improvements, Chisago SWCD and NRCS’ work with landowners in Chisago City, Lindstrom, Center City and surrounding townships seems to be paying off. Clean Water Fund grants are in play. The lake improvement district is a vital partner.

Watershed-based funding spurs cooperation

A new funding model allows a timely, local response to watersheds’ highest priority needs. This alternative to the traditional project-by-project grant process brings local governments together to implement water-quality improvements benefitting a specific watershed.

Shaping new drainage solutions

“When you go into a water problem, 99 percent of the time it’s nothing to do with water.” — Daniel Wilkens, recently retired Sand Hill River Watershed District administrator, Red River Watershed Management Board founding member, stakeholder Drainage Work Group member, and longtime farmer

The ditch specifications used in Polk County’s Sand Hill River Watershed District are now widely used elsewhere.

St. Louis County's septic solutions

St. Louis County has reduced the amount of sewage discharged to adjacent wetlands, lakes, streams, rivers or groundwater by about 3.95 million gallons per year as a result of two related programs.

Twenty-eight homeowners’ septic systems have been repaired, replaced or connected to a municipal sewer system since 2012 using Clean Water Funds plus the county’s local match. Three additional homeowners have been approved for replacements in 2019; one more house will be connected to a municipal sewer system.

Crow Wing County leverages funds to cap unsealed wells

A cost-share program in Crow Wing County supported by the Clean Water Fund assists landowners in capping abandoned wells. Improperly sealed wells are prone to contamination from surface materials, posing risks to drinking water. The initiative has far exceeded a 2013 goal to cap 20 wells in 10 years — 186 wells have been sealed since 2012.