Seeking citizen solutions to water quality problems
The Le Sueur River Watershed is characterized as many other agricultural watersheds in Minnesota, where majority of inventoried streams have been altered to improve drainage capacity to maintain productive lands. Over the years, we have seen increased frequency of "mega-rains", where at least six inches of rain covers more than 1,000 square miles. The city of Waseca average annual rainfall from 1941-1970 was approximately 30 inches, and 1981-2010 averages are close to 36 inches. The local hydrology of our watershed has some natural storage capacity, but it's not enough to protect downstream watershed neighbors. Citizens hold the key for finding and implementing solutions that work and a citizen-led process with support from watershed partners is a promising route to cleanup.
For more information on local rainfall visit:
The Le Sueur River Watershed Network exists to encourage collaboration, empower citizens and nurture a land stewardship amongst those that live, work and recreate in the watershed. The Network is guided by recommendations developed by a Citizen Advisory Committee over a series of meetings from 2012 to 2013 and ratified by the larger Network. The recommendations are described in our:
In 2013, eight citizens in the Le Sueur River Watershed stepped forward and volunteer their time to take on responsibility of steering the Le Sueur River Watershed Network's efforts to implement projects that support our 7 Recommendations toward cleaner water and river health.
1. More stormwater management and more in-ditch storage
2. More experimentation and demonstration with temporary water storage
3. More strategically placed buffers and more terraces and more grass waterways
4. More communication and education among watershed residents
5. Less red tape
6. More river channel maintenance of major snags (causing bank erosion or major obstructions)
7. More streambank and ravine stabilization
In order to realize our recommendations we operate based on civic governance principles:
Help define the problem using civic standards and an appreciate of everyone's role in the situation
Contribute resources (leadership, time, knowledge, constituencies and funds) to solve the problem
Contribute in decision and policymaking that serves the common good
Promote actions in the watershed where they have the authority to act using civic standards
(Adopted November 2016)
Since our first Steering Committee meeting, we have grown to ten members of watershed residents at our meetings, along with representatives from various state agencies and local conservation offices. Each Steering Committee member brings a different perspective with them based on their experiences farming, paddling, living, and researching in the Le Sueur River Watershed, but they all have one thing in common: leave a legacy to be proud of for future generations. The Steering Committee meets quarterly to continue growing the Network through improved information flow to watershed residents and elected officials, as well as supporting individual efforts to further our 7 Recommendations in each member's subwatershed. The ultimate aim of the Network is to establish the necessary "bounce" to temporarily store water in the Le Sueur River Watershed, thereby reducing peak flows and improve in-channel stability to protect farmland, cities and homes from damage.
Water Resources Center, Minnesota State University, Mankato