Sauk River Watershed District meets 90 percent of goals
The Sauk River Watershed District (SRWD) presented it's 10 year report to update Douglas County commissioners on the progress of improving water quality in area lakes and rivers.
SRWD Administrator Holly Kovarik explained that by law, watershed districts are required to have a 10 year plan. SRWD reported a 90 percent goal achievement for completing 165 of 183 action items included in it's 10 year plan.
"We've done a tremendous amount of assessment in the last decade," Kovarik said. She explained that a lot of impaired lakes are on lists now because they have been tested in the past, not because new issues have suddenly appeared.
The SRWD includes Douglas, Meeker, Pope, Stearns and Todd counties. Since the majority of the district is in Stearns County, most of the funding is applied toward projects in that county. Grant funds spent per county since the district was developed in 1995 through last year total: Douglas - $362,705, Meeker - $10,270, Pope - $81,190, Stearns - $4,702,490 and Todd - $2,051,283. Budget cycles between 2011 and 2013 remained relatively level.
Kovarik said the district works with 650,000 acres in five counties which includes 48 lake impairments and 62 stream impairments on more than 300 lakes in the area SRWD covers.
The district has focussed on shoreland restoration projects. One completed project at Battle Point Park in Todd County has met the goal of project implementation. More than 80 shoreland restorations on public and private lands have been executed. Since the SRWD began, eight percent of projects have been completed in Douglas County, one percent in Pope County, 56 percent in Stearns County and 35 percent in Todd County.
"We work very closely with our county partners to provide a loan program for landowners," Kovarik said.
SRWD has identified agricultural lands, buffer strips, shoreland and riparian restoration, stormwater and urban projects and groundwater protection projects as areas where water quality improvement projects are needed. Educational programming is a high priority for SRWD and includes youth education, adult education and public outreach.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.