Studies of water quality in Yellow Medicine River Watershed released; open for public comment

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972

St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Yellow Medicine River Watershed District and local groups are recommending a number of actions to restore and protect water bodies in the Yellow Medicine River Watershed.

The watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota in major portions of three counties: Yellow Medicine, Lincoln and Lyon, and smaller portions of Lac qui Parle and Redwood counties. The Yellow Medicine is a major tributary of the Minnesota River, entering about eight miles southeast of Granite Falls.

The Yellow Medicine River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) report and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report are available for public comment through June 15.

Generally, most of the streams and lakes in the watershed do not safely or adequately support swimming or fishing. Stream bank erosion and stormwater runoff are having a negative effect on water quality. Agricultural activities in the watershed have resulted in runoff that carries excess phosphorus, sediment and bacteria into bodies of water.

These pollutants degrade water quality and are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The TMDL report quantifies the pollutant levels, identifies the sources of the pollution, and proposes ways to bring water quality back 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, installing plant buffers along shoreland, stabilizing stream banks and implementing stormwater-control projects will help improve water quality in the watershed. Agricultural practices 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 Yellow Medicine River Watershed District, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, member cities and several state and local organizations. Individuals are always encouraged to get involved.

These reports are some of more than a dozen that have been 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 are available on the MPCA’s Yellow Medicine River Watershed webpage or at the MPCA’s St. Paul office, at 520 Lafayette Road N.

The MPCA encourages those interested in the Yellow Medicine River Watershed to review and provide feedback on the reports. Comments on the reports should be submitted in writing by June 15, 2016, to Michael Weckwerth, MPCA, 504 Fairgrounds Rd., Marshall, MN 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.