Prescription for healthier Hawk Creek: Buffers, stormwater controls, changes in ag practices

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Hawk Creek Watershed Project and local groups are recommending a number of actions to restore and protect water bodies in the Hawk Creek Watershed and surrounding tributaries directly flowing into the Minnesota River.

The Hawk Creek Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reports are available for public comment through June 21, 2017.

The watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota in major portions of Kandiyohi, Renville and Chippewa counties. Hawk Creek is a major tributary of the Minnesota River, entering about eight miles southeast of Granite Falls.

Generally, most streams and lakes in the watershed fail to support swimming or fishing. Stream bank erosion and stormwater runoff create a negative effect on water quality. Runoff from agricultural activities carries excess phosphorus, sediment and bacteria into water bodies. These pollutants degrade water quality and are harmful to fish and other aquatic life.

The TMDL report quantifies the pollutant levels, identifies pollution sources, and proposes ways to return water quality to an acceptable level.

The WRAPS report identifies impaired water bodies and those in need of protection, and identifies the actions needed to achieve and maintain water quality. For example, planting buffers along shoreland, stabilized stream banks, and stormwater control projects will help improve water quality. Agricultural practices called for include greater use of cover crops, minimum or no tillage, temporary storage of water and greater crop diversity.

Many groups are participating in restoration and protection efforts, including the Hawk Creek Watershed Project, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, cities and several state and local organizations. Individuals are always encouraged to get involved.

These reports are some of more than two dozen completed under the state’s watershed approach, a holistic way of gauging the health of streams and lakes, and developing strategies to restore or protect their water quality. The reports will help inform local water planning efforts.

The reports are available on the MPCA’s Yellow Medicine River Watershed webpage and at the MPCA’s St. Paul, Marshall and Willmar offices.

The MPCA encourages those interested in the Hawk Creek Watershed to review and provide feedback on the reports. Comments on the reports should be submitted in writing by 4:30 p.m., June 21, 2017, to Michael Weckwerth, MPCA, 504 Fairgrounds Road, Marshall, Minnesota 56258, or sent by email to michael.weckwerth@state.mn.us. He is available to answer questions at 507-476-4267.

Written comments must specify which report you are commenting on, include a statement of your interest in the report, and the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft report you believe should be changed. You must state the specific reasons for your position.

More information is available on the MPCA’s Impaired waters and TMDLs webpage.