towards cleaner water and river health recommended by Le Sueur River Watershed farmers and citizens
More stormwater management and more in-ditch storage
We need to manage stormwater. By stormwater, we mean any water that originates after a precipitation event, water flowing from urban and agricultural lands. We’ve learned that there is sediment coming from streambanks and that peak flows and high flow volume are causing a significant portion of the damage. We need to reduce flows and figure out how to store water on land and still farm and still tile. We need to slow the water down and to figure out a way to have less water flowing through the system. We need to hold the water as close to where it falls and treat it in both urban and rural settings. We need to figure out how to do this without spending too much money and in a way that protects water quality and wildlife.
More in-ditch storage
More stormwater ponds
More experimentation and demonstration with temporary water storage
Innovative projects hold a lot of power, to actually see with your own eyes how these Best Management Practices (BMPs) work and learn from people who have experimented with them. Examples include constructed wetlands, saturated buffers, in ditch storage, bioretention, and bioreactors to capture nitrate-nitrogen.
More constructed treatment wetlands
More dry bioretention
Source: Lake Superior Streams
More strategically placed buffers, terraces, and grass waterways
Buffers can be very effective in certain locations in reducing pollution and have other multiple benefits (stabilizing bank, providing wildlife habitat). Buffers are required along certain waterways. We need to establish more buffers in the Le Sueur River Watershed.
More communication and education among watershed residents
We have to communicate with people within the watershed and the broader public. This is a critical first step. We need to educate landowners including absentee landowners and other watershed residents. We need to publicize the good that comes from environmental improvements, to show what can be done. We invite other farmers in the community to join to promote and “lift up” the good work that is already being done. There needs to be more public awareness and education about the unique features of this watershed. We need marketing to recognize landowners that are being good land stewards. We should provide ecological information in schools, newspapers,
radio etc. We need to promote recreational use of rivers and connect the youth with rivers. Let’s leave a legacy for our grandchildren.
Less red tape
Red Tape is frustrating for landowners and agencies alike, but to move forward we need to increase efforts to cut red tape for willing conservationist landowners and promote more coordination among agencies. Technical assistance is needed in order to get conservation back on the land and much of the red tape is about making sure that taxpayer funded projects are built correctly and in accordance with existing polices and laws. We need to encourage landowner initiatives that don’t rely on taxpayer dollars. We also need to improve cost share ratios and get more resources (design services, technical assistance) to understaffed Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). We can always do more to streamline procedures and improve partner coordination.
More river channel maintenance of major snags (causing bank erosion or barrier)
There are a lot of downed trees in local waterways. They are a symptom of a larger issue of an unstable river adjusting to increased flows. Some rivers are seeing trees blocking the entire waterway. In some sections, this woody debris needs to be removed or managed.
More streambank and ravine stabilization
We need more streambank and ravine stabilization projects. We can use low tech ideas that cost less (like toe wood or j-hook projects). We need to install streambank and ravine stabilization projects that work are and are cost effective.