Clean water the major goal of watershed district

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 2, 2004

By Harley Miller

Clean water is the major goal for the Shell Rock River Watershed District as well as for the state and federal governments.

The Watershed District Board of Managers has adopted the following mission: &uot;The District’s mission is to implement reasonable and necessary improvements to water-related and other natural resources of the District. Many water-related issues are being addressed by one or more local, state and federal government agencies. The District will review current levels of enforcement, funding and labor available to fully achieve stated goals. The District may increase the extent or pace of implementation by providing the necessary leadership, and assist with funding, volunteer support, and services necessary.&uot;

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The Board, comprised of seven managers, has developed a comprehensive plan to address water quality in the District, all of which lies in Freeborn County.

It will take an equally comprehensive set of rules to accomplish the plan. In all probability, the District Board of Managers will implement the plan by using a sub-watershed approach. There are 18 sub-watersheds in the Shell Rock River Watershed District. By starting at the top of the watershed and working down through the sub-watersheds, the Board can measure progress and see if it’s accomplishing its goal to improve water quality.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will hold a public hearing on the plan at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, at the Riverland College auditorium in Albert Lea. When the Board completes the rule-making process, another public hearing will be held. Whenever any new action or program for the watershed is developed, a public hearing will be held.

Background of the plan

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources formed the Shell Rock River Watershed District on June 25, 2003. The Board held its first meeting on June 26, 2003, and elected officers.

The Board held further meetings in 2003 and 2004, which were almost entirely dedicated to devising a plan for the watershed. The plan evolved to a certain extent from the revised Freeborn County plan for the watershed.

The following is a brief outline of the plan. Please note that the appendices are roughly in order of priority, with A being a top priority and J being less important.

The first 115 pages are historical and descriptive of the plan, which totals 176 pages.

Appendix A: Erosion Implementation Plan to address soil erosion problems on the land, ditch banks and shoreland. For example, one proposal is an educational campaign to encourage conservation tillage.

Appendix B: Lakes Implementation Plan concerning water quality in Albert Lea Lake and lake-related problems. This section also addresses plans for Chapeau, Church, Fountain, Goose, Hall, Pickerel, School Section, Sugar, and Lower and Upper Twin Lakes. For instance, one idea is to work with the city of Albert Lea, Freeborn County, and local organizations to secure a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency grant for a Clean Water Partnership Project.

Appendix C: Streams Implementation, an extension of Appendix A, because it relates to many of the same erosion problems.

Appendix D: Urban Implementation Plan, which concerns actions necessary to improve and eliminate water quality problems attributable to urban areas in the watershed. One example of proposals is to identify and improve urban lawn and vegetation management practices that adversely impact water quality.

Appendix E: Flooding Implementation, which addresses various flooding problems.

Appendix F: Wetland Implementation, which addresses the preservation of existing rural and urban wetlands along with the encouragement of wetland restoration and enhancement.

Appendix G: Groundwater Implementation Plan to protect drinking water supplies. One goal is to identify unsealed water wells no longer in use and develop a program to seal them.

Appendix H: Address individual sewage systems and general aboveground cleanup of lakes and streams.

Appendix I: Data Implementation Plan, which develops monitoring stations to determine present water quality and measure improvements.

Appendix J: Recognize other goals. For example, one goal may be to establish plots of native plant species to reduce soil erosion.

This is a brief description of the plan. If interested in details of the plan, complete copies are available at: The Albert Lea Public Library; Online at under County Government/Watersheds

If anyone wants further information or has questions, please call me at 373-0900 or write to me at: Shell Rock River Watershed District, P.O. Box 1147, Albert Lea, MN


(Harley Miller is a retired investment adviser and lives on Albert Lea Lake. He has participated in many local service clubs, fund-raising campaigns and community programs.)