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HLWD highlights water quality projects during tour

BREWSTER -- As Gov. Mark Dayton travels around the state to discuss water challenges and water quality as part of Water Action Week, the Heron Lake Watershed District took time Thursday to showcase some of the efforts it has led to reduce erosion...

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Participants on a Heron Lake Watershed District project tour examine a biodetention basin across the street from Fulda Lake Thursday morning. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe

BREWSTER - As Gov. Mark Dayton travels around the state to discuss water challenges and water quality as part of Water Action Week, the Heron Lake Watershed District took time Thursday to showcase some of the efforts it has led to reduce erosion, filter out sediment and nutrients and, overall, improve the waters within its district.

The HLWD hosted a tour of three Best Management Practices sites Thursday morning, viewing a streambank stabilization project on Okabena Creek, a bioretention basin west of Graham Lakes and a biodetention basin on the west side of Fulda Lakes. Each of the projects was funded by a 25 percent landowner match to a 75 percent grant the HLWD received from the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund. The dollars were allocated by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources.
The watershed district was awarded the $122,000 grant in 2013. With it, five projects have been completed and water sampling has been conducted over the past three years. In 2013, district staff constructed the streambank stabilization and biodetention basins, while the bioretention basin was completed just a week ago, said Catherine Wegehaupt, HLWD technician.
The streambank stabilization project consists of J-hook wiers built from rocks to help slow down water flow in Okabena Creek to prevent further erosion of the shoreline. The rocks also act as a filter, causing sediment and the nutrients attached to it to settle rather than continue to flow downstream.
Wegehaupt said the project cost $16,000 and is estimated to achieve 300 tons of sediment reduction in the creek per year - the equivalent of 11 dump trucks of soil.
“J-hooks (also) have benefit to aquatic life,” she added.
The installation of J-hook wiers required a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Because installation of the project is so expensive, Wegehaupt said, the watershed district tries to put them in areas where they have the greatest effectiveness.
At the site of the bioretention basin, the farmer wanted to remove sediment from an existing pond to increase water holding capacity. The pond serves as the collection point for surface water and tile drainage for 184 acres of land.
The $52,000 project increased the depth of the pond, allowing sediment and nutrients to settle out before water flows through a 24-inch, 50-foot-long pipe into a rock outlet leading to an adjacent stream.

Related Topics: WATERSHED
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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