MANKATO — Le Sueur County will receive $408,187 to reduce blue-green algae blooms in Lake Washington by increasing water storage capacity, through one of three water storage grants of the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources.
The grant, called the Lake Washington Patterson Watershed Storage Project, is part of a long-term effort to address the rapid runoff of water accelerated by climate change that is causing erosion and poor water quality. the water.
Changes in landscape factors such as rainfall patterns, land use and drainage have resulted in loss of water storage. This means that too much water is flowing too quickly in the region’s rivers, which in turn leads to bank erosion, sending sediment and the accompanying nutrients and pollutants into other water bodies.
Over the past decade, climate change has accelerated these changes, as more intense and frequent rainfall has negative effects on agriculture and infrastructure, such as loss of shoreline that can lead to road closures along rivers. affected.
“I know we have a lot of support all around because these impacts are happening everywhere, and we’re just trying to find ways to work with that,” said Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Mike Schultz. of Le Sueur County.
Schultz said a 150-acre structure will be built to hold water long enough to allow sediment to settle and be sent through a system of ditches instead of into the lake.
“You don’t just push everything into one place at a quick time, that’s where we see a lot of our ravines and cliffs start to give way,” Schultz said.
Once in operation, the water storage system will prevent 274 pounds of phosphorus, 8,224 pounds of nitrogen and 44.9 tons of total suspended solids from entering the lake each year, Schultz said. The aim is to prevent blue-green algae from blooming for more than two weeks per year.
The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources funding will also benefit Lyon County and Area II Minnesota River Basin Projects, Inc. in addition to Le Sueur. In total, the three governments will receive $843,851.
The Minnesota River Congress began prioritizing solving water problems in the Minnesota River Basin six years ago and has since lobbied for funds for conservation and quality improvement. the water.
River Congress coordinator/facilitator Scott Sparlin said the grants represent a positive opportunity, but they “need to keep moving things forward.”
The Legislative Assembly granted $2 million to BWSR to expand the large-scale water storage program in 2021, and a second round of grants is expected to pass during next year’s session.
Sparlin said he also expects additional funding of the state’s budget surplus of $9.25 billion before the end of this year’s legislative session on May 23. Sparlin said he hopes the legislature will call a special session so that funding can be passed.
“We know that if we can get enough projects in the field over time, we’re going to start to see some differences,” Schultz said. “We have to start somewhere and that’s where we are.”