Minnesota agency announces grants to protect clean water in St. Croix region

Funding from the 2008 Legacy Amendment will help keep lakes and rivers healthy.




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White water lilies bloom in South Center Lake off the shore of Loren’s Park in Center City. The lake is part of a chain of lakes recently restored to good health through state and local efforts. (Ann Wessel/BWSR)

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) approved $12.7 million in Clean Water Fund grants today to improve water quality in streams, lakes and groundwater across the state. Most of the grant funding is allocated for voluntary conservation projects across Minnesota, including funding for projects that focus on improving and protecting drinking water.

“Clean water is fundamental to the health and well-being of the people who call Minnesota home,” said BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke. “These grants will improve water quality throughout the state, advancing the Clean Water Fund’s goal to make more of our waters fishable, swimmable and drinkable.”

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

The $12.7 million will fund 31 grants dedicated to specific projects and practices. Four grants will support multi-purpose drainage management, and four grants will focus on projects that specifically address drinking water issues.

St. Croix Watershed Projects

Wetland Restoration
Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District
Washington County

Forest Lake is one of the top recreational lakes in the metro area and the largest lake in Washington County, and has a diverse and healthy fishery and three public accesses. Water quality of Forest Lake impacts downstream waters, particularly Comfort Lake, Sunrise River, and ultimately Lake St. Croix. While not currently on the impaired waters list, Forest Lake is very near the water quality standard and protecting it is a high priority for the region. The proposed project will restore approximately 1.5-acres of wetland and will include sediment excavation and vegetation rehabilitation. The excavation and scraping will provide for deeper pools along with large shallow wetland benches to promote nutrient uptake and vegetation growth. This project is estimated to reduce total phosphorus loading by approximately 38 pounds per year.

Big Marine Lake Stormwater Quality Improvements Phase I
Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District
Washington County

This project proposes to treat 7.3 acres of stormwater flowing directly into Big Marine Lake with water quality best management practices that increase small storm retention by 6,111 cubic feet and reduce annual total phosphorus discharges by 9.9 pounds per year and sediment by 1,531 pounds per year. Big Marine Lake is a high quality recreational lake with three public accesses and is nearly impaired for aquatic life. This proposal is the first phase of projects identified in the Big Marine Subwatershed Analysis and treats the largest source of urban stormwater discharging to the lake.

Big Carnelian Lake Stormwater Quality Improvements Phase I
Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District
Washington County

This project proposes to collect and treat 32 acres of stormwater flowing directly into Big Carnelian Lake with no water quality treatment. A 15,000 ft³ bioinfiltration basin will treat 87% of the annual discharge and reduce 7 pounds of total phosphorus and 3 tons of sediment discharging into Big Carnelian Lake each year. Big Carnelian Lake is a high quality recreational lake with a public access and declining water quality trends. This is the largest source of untreated urban stormwater discharging into the lake identified in the Big Carnelian Lake Subwatershed Analysis.

Moody Lake Capstone Projects
Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District
Chisago County

Moody Lake is a major lake within the headwaters of the Comfort Lake-Forest Lake Watershed District (CLFLWD) northern flow network. A multi-year diagnostic and implementation feasibility study was conducted in the Moody Lake watershed to prioritize nutrient sources, target cost-effective BMPs, and estimate the measurable phosphorus reductions that will be achieved through implementation of projects. Past efforts in this watershed have achieved a phosphorus reduction of 779 pounds per year, or 90% of the total phosphorus load reduction goal. The CLFLWD proposes to target projects to the remaining phosphorus loading hotspots in Moody Lake’s direct drainage area. Potential projects include: wetland phosphorus-laden sediment excavation, rain garden and/or shoreline restoration, implementation of wetland treatment cells, and agricultural best management practices. Cumulative phosphorus reduction under the proposed projects is estimated at 45 pounds per year.

Island Lake Water Quality Protection
Pine Soil and Watershed Conservation District
Pine County

Island lake of the Kettle River Watershed provides landowners and countless visitors the opportunity to experience high quality recreation within a day’s trip from the Twin Cities. Island Lake has the third highest phosphorous sensitivity significance in the Kettle River Watershed. The goal of this project is to protect Island Lake from impairment through the targeted use of shoreland stabilizations, shoreland buffers, rain barrel installation, and other site-appropriate structural vegetative Best Management Practices (BMPs). Island Lake, while not currently listed as impaired, does exceed the threshold for total phosphorous and chlorophyll. It is expected that BMPs will be installed on 15 parcels and approximately 1,600 feet of shoreline will be addressed. These proposed amounts will decrease the annual phosphorus loading by 18 pounds per year and decrease sediment entering the lake by 53 tons per year.

Perro Creek Stormwater Retrofits
Washington Conservation District
Washington County

This project proposes up to four structural stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to reduce at least eight pounds of phosphorous and 4,000 pounds of sediment from annual stormwater runoff within the Perro Creek subwatershed. This runoff discharges from 13 acres of urban land directly into Perro Creek before outleting into Lake St. Croix with little to no water quality treatment. This project will achieve the above results through practices identified in prioritized catchments of the Perro Creek Stormwater Retrofit Analysis. The installation of these practices will reduce the nutrient loading that are the root cause of the nutrient impairment in Lake St. Croix.