Studies call for more stream and ditch restoration, land use practice changes to restore and protect Grand Marais Creek Watershed

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108

Based on two new studies available for public review and comment, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and local watershed partners are recommending stream and ditch restoration projects, and that landowners implement voluntary management practices to reduce water pollution in the Grand Marais Creek Watershed. Members of the public have until 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2019, to comment on the studies.

The studies found that land alterations designed to promote soil drainage, such as stream channelization and ditching, have had a negative impact on water quality, fish and aquatic insect communities and recreation.

Impairments to fish and aquatic insect communities are caused by low dissolved oxygen, excessive sediment and E. coli bacteria levels. Excessive E. coli levels also caused streams to be impaired for recreation.

The majority of land in the watershed is privately owned and farmed — about 92 percent is planted in crops. While landowners have long been engaged in good land stewardship practices, the Grand Marais Creek Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Study and Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) reports recommend widespread changes to restore and protect streams and ditches. These include additional stream and ditch restoration projects, and increased use of buffer strips and crop rotation.

The TMDL study identifies impaired water bodies, quantifies the pollutant levels, identifies pollution sources, and proposes ways to return water quality to an acceptable level. The WRAPS report additionally identifies waters in need of protection, and actions needed to achieve and maintain water quality.

The study and report are available on the MPCA's Grand Marais Creek webpage. The reports can also be reviewed at the MPCA Detroit Lakes office at 714 Lake Avenue, Suite 220. Comments on the draft reports should be sent to Denise Oakes, 714 Lake Ave., Suite 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501; or by email to, denise.oakes@state.mn.us. If you have questions, she can be reached by phone, 218-846-8119. Comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2019.

More information is also available from Corey Hanson, Red Lake River Watershed District, 218-681-5800; Nicole Bernd, West Polk County SWCD, 218-281-6070, and Joel Praska, Middle/Snake/Tamarac River Watershed District, 218-745-4741.

Written comments must include a statement of your interest in the Grand Marais Creek study and/or report, a statement of the action you wish the MPCA to take, including specific references to sections of the draft study and/or report you believe should be changed, and specific reasons for your position.