Help is on the way to clean up Lake Ida north of Alexandria.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced Friday, Dec. 18, that the Douglas County Soil and Water Conservation District will receive a $683,867 grant to reduce the amount of phosphorus that’s getting into the lake.

The project includes:

  • Constructing a 1,899-foot channel along the edge of a wetland that is leaching phosphorus into the lake.

  • Repairing 741 feet of the existing channel.

  • Constructing a stilling basin.

  • Repairing an existing sediment pond.

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The project is expected to prevent 240 pounds of phosphorus from getting into Lake Ida each year.

A feasibility study was completed to determine the best options for addressing phosphorus loading to Lake Ida, and will be completed through this grant. A subwatershed assessment was also completed for the lake in order to identify other sources of phosphorus. However, none are as significant as the wetland, according to the conservation district.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources lists Lake Ida as “highest priority” in terms of phosphorus sensitivity, high in biological significance, and the lake is a first-ranked waterbody for receiving funds.

The grant is part of a total of $12.3 million in Clean Water Fund grants that will be used to improve water quality in lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater across the state.

Two other projects in the Douglas County area also received grants:

  • The Pope County Soil and Water Conservation District received $235,000 to protect Lake Minnewaska by reducing sediment and phosphorus, which are a result of massive gully erosion and eroding ravines that have been converted to row crop production.

The conservation district has four landowners ready to implement 10 water and sediment control basins, one lined waterway, one grassed waterway, and one shoreline protection project. The projects have the potential to reduce sediment by 412 tons/year, and 330 pounds/year of phosphorus from entering the lake, according to the district.

  • The Todd County Soil and Water Conservation District received $38,351 to reduce total phosphorus and sediment in lakes within the headwater and upper regions of the Sauk River Watershed.

The district will help landowners with consultation guidance and costs associated with planting, managing, and maintaining effective cover crops on the landscape.

There are three zones of cover crop priority within the Sauk River Headwater and Upper Watershed Management Units. The two most critical zones in which the majority of promotion and technical efforts will be targeted are the Lake Osakis Management District and the Todd and Douglas County portions of the Sauk Lake Management District.

The project is expected to reduce phosphorus by 33 pounds per acre per year and sediment by eight tons per acre per year.

Most of the grant funding is allocated for voluntary conservation projects across Minnesota, including $646,825 for projects that specifically focus on improving and protecting drinking water. Multipurpose drainage management projects will receive $551,159.

“Throughout Minnesota, local government staff and private landowners are collaborating with the state to make meaningful progress toward improving water quality,” said BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke. “These grants are a key component in ongoing efforts to keep our water clean and our lakes, rivers and streams healthy.”

A total of 37 separate grants are being awarded to local government entities, including soil and water conservation districts, counties, watershed districts, watershed management organizations, and cities.

The grants will support projects and practices that reduce erosion, protect and restore surface water quality in lakes and streams, and protect groundwater. This includes stormwater treatment, shoreline restoration, and treatments that reduce sediment, bacteria, nitrate and phosphorus.

Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment in 2008 to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve arts and cultural heritage; to support parks and trails; and to protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater. The Clean Water Fund receives 33% of the sales tax revenue generated by the Legacy Amendment. More information about the Clean Water Fund is available here.