Working together

Editor’s Note: The Yellow Medicine River Watershed District, the Soil and Water Conservations Districts (SWCDS) and the Environmental Offices and Planning and Zoning offices of the Lincoln, Lyon, Yellow Medicine, Redwood and Lac qui Parle counties are providing a four-part series of information about the watershed in your area, funded by the clean water legacy. Thirty-three percent of the sales tax revenue from the Legacy amendment is allocated to the Clean Water Fund for the restoration and protection of the waters of the state of Minnesota.

Have you ever wondered about the water quality in nearby streams and ditches? Have you ever thought about where your water goes after it leaves your land? We want to be pro-active about water quality and quantity issues and solutions in our area. We hope you want to be pro-active as well.

This map of the Yellow Medicine River Watershed shows the sub-watersheds where some of the land you own or operate lies. While you are out in your watershed, here are some items to consider as you see the landscape around you.

Some questions to think about:

Who’s responsible for water quality and quantity issues?

Are there surface water quality and quantity concerns in your sub-watershed?

What are some of the issues that affect water quality and quantity?

Are there groundwater quality and quantity issues?

Do you know the quality and quantity of groundwater?

If there are concerns, what type of assistance do you need?

What changes can the local unit of governments do to improve water quality and quantity?

What type of improvements could you do to improve the water quality and quantity?

What are some good things that are happening in this sub-watershed?

How can we form a cooperative group to work together to find these answers?

As you consider the different land uses within the watershed, think about the affect they have the quality of the waters. The various agencies that work within the watershed, including the Watershed District and the county Soil and Water Conservation Districts, have implemented intensive watershed monitoring to see what the affects have been on the watershed. While impairment is still prevalent across the watershed, our efforts to restore water quality and bring surface waters into an improved state were not futile.

In the course of the last 40 years, pollutant trends were analyzed for the long period of record (1967-2009) and the near-term period of record (1994-2009). The records have shown a decrease in Total Suspended Solids, Total Phosphorus, Ammonia and Bio Chemical Oxygen demand, at a rate of approximately 2% per year from 1967-2009. Of greater significance, there has been a larger decrease in the same pollutants from 1994 to 2009 of about 5-10% per year, depending on the pollutant. However, in the same monitoring period, the trend shows that the Nitrite/Nitrate levels have increased by .8% and Chloride by 3.35% each year. This information is derived from the Minnesota River-Granite Falls Watershed monitoring and assessment report which can be accessed on the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District website at

Because many of our streams in the watershed are still listed as impaired, our work continues. We continue to examine the stressors that are recognized in our watershed, such as nutrients, turbidity, low dissolved oxygen, decreased habitat, and altered hydrology. Addressing non-point source pollution by way of a targeted approach to best management practices placements will benefit our watershed and our landowners. Working together, we can identify areas in the watershed that are likely more prone to be sources and pathways of contamination and working with those landowners to protect and restore those sensitive areas.

The following cooperating partners listed are working together in the Yellow Medicine River Watershed on addressing the issue of water quality from a local point of view. Your ideas as a constituent of the watershed are needed. If you have any suggestions or ideas which will assist us on how we can improve the quality of water within your watershed, please contact one of the local partners:

Lac qui Parle SWCD Terry Wittnebel320-598-7321 x3

Lincoln SWCD Pauline VanOverbeke507-694-1630 x3

Lyon SWCD John Biren 507-537-0396 x3

Redwood SWCD Marilyn Bernhardson 507-637-2427 x3

Yellow Medicine SWCD LouAnn Nagel 320-669-4442 x3

Yellow Medicine River Watershed Cindy