Posted on Feb 01, 2022

EcoEducation: No More Muddy Water Blues

Freshwater’s work at the Capitol and prior to that 15 years of work studying the problem of impairment of waterways due to suspended sediment led to bipartisan support for the new, state water storage program, particularly targeted to the Minnesota River Basin. The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) will receive $1 million in FY 2021 and FY 2022 to fund this water storage program. They are asking for an additional $10 million in bonding this session to carry the program forward.
We learned more about what contributes to the problem of suspended sediment.   For the Minnesota River Basin it started with the amazing fertile soil in the land around the watershed.  

In the 1930s farmers figured they needed to keep soil in their fields.  Drain tiles were the solution - the biggest infrastructure project in the US and one that one one can see.  Even with the establishment of the drain tile infrastructure the reality is that a lot of sediment continues to flow into the river.   The combination of monocrop with fallow periods,  mechanized farming, and draining have all contributed to greater amounts of sediment making its way to the river. In the Minnesota River Basin this is to the tune of 200 tons of sediment per mile per year.   The Minnesota River is responsible for bringing 85% of sediment to Lake Pepin although it brings less than 40% of the water.  

There are a menu of options that can be pursued - stabilizing ravines and stabilizing bluffs, planting crops to cover the soil throughout the year, restore wetlands

The BWSR knows what to do and where to do it to have the most impact.  Read more about water storage and climate resilience as well as the water storage program legislated in 2021.