The project will involve monitoring twelve stream sites and one lake in Jackson County. The stream sites are known to be impaired. The purpose of monitoring in multiple locations is to determine the source of the impairments. The Heron Lake Watershed District (HLWD) staff will be in charge of all aspects of monitoring, administration, and project implementation.
The WFDMR watershed is part of the Western Corn Belt Plains and Northern Glaciated Plains ecoregions. The watershed extends across seven counties: Murray, Cottonwood, Jackson, and Nobles and small portions of Pipestone, Lyon, and Martin. It covers an area of 1,333 square miles. The river originates in the northwestern part of the watershed from several lakes including its principal source Lake Shetek. The river flows from the Lake Shetek outlet near Currie in a southeasterly direction for 94 miles to the Minnesota/Iowa border and eventually enters the Mississippi River at Keokuk, Iowa. The river is mainly slow flat water except for some moderate rapids near Kilen Woods State Park. The overall gradient from the Talcot dam to Jackson is approximately 2.1 feet per mile. The dominant land use in the WFDMR watershed is row crop agriculture (~85.5%), with 9.5% pasture/open, 3% water/marsh, 1.5% urban, and 0.5% forested. Land adjacent to the stream is utilized for pasture, cropland, urban development, and recreation. Agricultural production is a dominant and vital part of the economy for this region.
The Heron Lake subwatershed has an established watershed district. The HLWD was formed in 1970 with a mission to protect and improve the water resources within its boundaries by supporting watershed residents through the use of education and financial programs. The HLWD covers about 472 square miles and works with the landowners in this area to install Best Management Practices (BMP) to increase the water quality. They are also active in educating citizens about environmental issues, research conducted, and education on BMPs.
To date, 24 stream reaches and 15 lakes have been assessed. These stream reaches and lakes have been found to not be meeting at least one beneficial use. Within the 24 stream reaches, there are 36 impairments listed on the draft 2012 Impaired Waters List with some reaches not meeting more than one beneficial use. In 2009, a TMDL Report was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency addressing 33 impairments on 21 stream reaches and two lakes. Data gaps still exist in the WFDMR watershed, highlighting the need for SWAG funds. Funds would also help in acquiring data for MPCA's Watershed approach.
Project start/end dates: March 24, 2014 to March 31, 2016
Project budget: $48,626.41