Book of Abstracts

Program PDF

8:00–8:10 a.m.


Emily Resseger, Metropolitan Council


Plenary Session

Minnesota’s Clean Water Fund – Creating the Legacy for Today and Tomorrow

John Linc Stine, Freshwater Society; John Barton; Sen. Carrie Ruud, Minnesota State Senate; Rep. Patty Acomb, Minnesota House of Representatives

In 2008, Minnesota’s voters passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment (Legacy Amendment) to the Minnesota Constitution. The purpose of the Legacy Amendment is to: 1) protect drinking water sources; 2) to protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat; to preserve arts and cultural heritage; 3) to support parks and trails; and 4) to protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater. The Legacy Amendment increases the state sales tax by three-eighths of one percent continuing until 2034. The Clean Water Fund amounts to more than $120M biennially. Past and current investments include monitoring, assessment and characterization, nonpoint source implementation, groundwater/drinking water implementation, and research, evaluation and tool development activities.

This presentation and panel discussion will look back to the beginning, examine our current investments and look forward to the legacy of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.


Poster and Vendor Refreshment Break


Concurrent Session IV

Moderator: Ron Leaf
Co-moderator: Erik Brenna

10:00–10:20 – 1048: The Potential Water Quality and Other Co-Benefits of Solar Energy

Patrick Hamilton, Adam Heathcote, Science Museum of Minnesota

The default mode often is the construction of large solar arrays over hundreds of acres, but what if many, smaller solar arrays were encouraged? Smaller solar arrays deployed across our rural areas would cause less visual impact, and would distribute the financial benefits of solar to more landowners.

Irregularly-shaped fields can be cumbersome for farmers to cultivate. Converting these fields to solar would enable farmers to square off their fields and focus their efforts on their best lands while receiving financially attractive annual lease payments from solar. Smaller solar arrays placed on irregularly-shaped croplands along waterways and seeded with pollinator-friendly perennials would yield big water quality and other co-benefits.

Planting pollinator-friendly perennials under solar arrays would result both in the production of carbon-free electricity but also the sequestering of atmospheric carbon back in soils in the form of organic plant material. If a price was put on the carbon emissions that are worsening climate change, then farmers could derive income both from their new crops of clean electricity and also from sequestering carbon.

The idea is that farmers voluntarily choose to use some of their less valuable croplands to produce a valuable new crop: zero-carbon electricity. But would this really do much good? The Science Museum of Minnesota’s modeling of a small agricultural watershed where irregular croplands adjacent to waterways were converted to solar with pollinator-friendly perennials resulted in combined reductions of nitrate, phosphorus and sediment of nearly 60 percent.

Solar arrays are likely to crop up on hundreds of thousands of Minnesota’s rural acres in coming years. This may seem like a lot of land but it is a tiny share of the over 20 million acres of cropland in the state. But thoughtfully sited, solar could demonstrate how the emerging clean energy economy could fuel multiple water, environmental and rural economic co-benefits.

10:20–10:40 – 1050: Adventures in Establishing Linear Reconstruction GI: 3 Years of Designing and Building Practices Before the Stormwater Ordinance

Katie Kowalczyk, Allison Bell, City of Minneapolis

This presentation will cover the approach taken by the City of Minneapolis to prepare for the ordinance update requiring Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) on linear projects. This will focus on some of the specific design elements such as inlet details and slopes, and broadly cover some of the programmatic approaches, such as training, supplementing staff resources, outreach to internal stakeholders, and O&M tools.

Required updates to the City of Minneapolis Stormwater Management Ordinance were expected to drastically impact linear projects constructed throughout the city. For the first time, these projects would be subject to the ordinance, requiring stormwater management facilities to retain runoff volume, improve water quality, and provide rate control, all within the confines of the developed, crowded ROW. Per the regulatory requirements, and in line with various City policies and goals, the preferred methods to meet the ordinance require GSI features such as bioretention cells. Three years ahead of the anticipated deadline, the city began to prepare for the inclusion of GSI features in the ROW to meet the new requirements.

This presentation will provide background on the 3 years before the stormwater ordinance updates went into effect in 2022, and walk through the lessons-learned, successes and challenges.

10:40–11:00 – 1051: Unearthing an Approach to Vegetation Establishment in Urban Green Infrastructure

Allison Bell, City of Minneapolis; Britta Hansen, EOR

Establishing vegetation within Green Infrastructure (GI) facilities in an urban, developed city with substantial winter maintenance processes, such as application of chlorides and sands, is a significant challenge. Healthy vegetation is an integral part of the success of GI and is a clear demonstration of the multiple benefits offered by such facilities. Plants help improve physical and mental well-being and are a tool for improving quality of life and safety in urban environments.

The City of Minneapolis has partnered with EOR to develop standard plans and practices for successfully planting and maintaining a variety of vegetation types within GI facilities in a highly urban setting. The presentation will discuss the history and necessity of the city’s green infrastructure program, early challenges in getting plants established in GI, and the essential elements for successfully establishing vegetation within GI facilities including:

  • Plant Species Selection
  • Installation Methods
  • Construction Oversight
  • Maintenance Guidance
  • Public Outreach

In addition, presenters will discuss opportunities for collaboration with residents in the implementation of green infrastructure, and methods and tools for doing outreach before, during, and after planting takes place. This presentation will make the case for planting native vegetation in urban environments and will give attendees a better understanding of how to do so effectively. It will also cover a pilot of native sod applications in the city.

11:00–11:20 – 1052: North and East St. Paul Target Store Stormwater Retrofits

Paige Ahlborg, Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District; Katie Turpen-Nagel, Barr Engineering Co.

Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) has budgeted grant funds to partner with commercial sites near priority water bodies or in underserved parts of the district to install stormwater retrofits in an initiative to improve water quality and help achieve water quality goals. This Targeted Retrofit Program looks for opportunities to develop partnership to install best management practices (BMPs) at properties with high impervious surface coverage and no plans for future remodels that would trigger stormwater permit requirements.

In 2018, staff began discussions with the stormwater division of Target Corporation about their green infrastructure initiatives and how we could work together to achieve the stormwater treatment goals of both organizations. Target was open to installing a variety of BMP types and allowing the loss of parking spaces to keep BMPs above ground for not only ease of maintenance but also so Target guests could appreciate the efforts. RWMWD collaborated with Target Corp to install seven rain gardens and one tree trench feature within the parking lot at the East St. Paul Target store in 2020 and then installed four rain gardens and two tree trench features in 2021 at the Target store in North St. Paul. RWMWD is now working with Target to install educational project signage and is developing operations and maintenance tools to help achieve long-term treatment goals. Inspired by the success of this partnership, Target Corp is hoping to take what they have learned and implement similar retrofit projects at other stores across the country.

11:20–11:30 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Jeff Berg
Co-moderator: Marcey Westrick

10:00–10:20 – 1011: Assessing the Implications of Chloride from Land Application of Manure

Matthew Belanger, Erin Cortus, Melissa Wilson, University of Minnesota

Rising chloride contamination in ground and surface waters is a growing concern in Minnesota. Previous studies estimate 87% of the chloride load to originate from road salts, fertilizers, and wastewater treatments plants with 6% originating from manure fertilizers. However, these estimates may be outdated as the livestock industry and manure application practices have evolved since these estimates were calculated in 2004. It also remains unclear the effect varying manure and soil types have on chloride leaching following manure application. The aim of this study is to understand the movement of manure-based chloride through a series of intact core leaching studies. In-tact soils cores with a depth and diameter of 30.4 cm will be taken from fields containing fine and medium textured soils around Minnesota in fall 2021. For the first round of experiments, each core will be surface applied with either liquid manure, solid manure, or potassium chloride; cores with no nutrient application will serve as the control. Core leachate will be analyzed to measure total chloride concentration following a series of wetting events, each amounting to 50.8 mm of simulated rainfall. Future attempts in creating chloride-based mass balances will benefit from this study.

10:20–10:40 – 1002: Minnesota’s State of Soil Health: Research and Outreach Update from the Minnesota Office for Soil Health

Anna Cates, A. Marcelle Lewandowski, University of Minnesota

Established in 2018, the Minnesota Office for Soil Health (MOSH) is a University-government collaboration to increase the capacity of local professionals around the state to support adoption of soil friendly practices. The Office is housed at the UMN Water Resources Center (WRC) with base funding from the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and WRC. After 4 years in operation, MOSH has strengthened and built collaborations for research and outreach. The presentation will highlight current projects as well as plans for future work.

Soil health training is delivered formally, through UMN Extension, NRCS, BWSR events, as well as informally, though statewide networks of soil health educators with local government and Extension. These trainings and networks inform soil health research by MOSH and partners. Funded by a CIG grant, Blair recently led a survey of soil health indicators in the Red River Valley, the Minnesota River Valley, Stearns and Mower counties, and is building a publicly accessible database. This database will help farmers and their advisors interpret soil health indicators. MOSH is also actively investigating intersections between soil water management and soil health, via soil moisture monitoring, rainfall-based sampling, and rainfall simulation to evaluate response to climate change. Recent research at newly installed drainage plots in Crookston, MN, revealed soil organic matter pools can change deep in the profile in response to drainage, which has implications for farm management and climate modeling.

Going forward, MOSH is developing a soil health curriculum for agricultural lenders, deepening collaborations with agricultural retailers and co-ops, hosting a regional Soil Health Nexus training for educators, and continuing research at the intersection of soil and water.

10:40–11:00 – 1014: Assessing Agricultural Producers’ Motivations to Participate in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program

Amit Pradhananga, Derric Pennington, University of Minnesota; Daniela Miteva, Samuel Cheng, Ohio State University

Non-point source pollution from diffusely distributed sources including agricultural landscapes is a major concern in Minnesota. Farmers’ use of conservation practices and participation in conservation programs provide important ecological benefits including improved water quality and soil health, and enhanced wildlife habitat. The Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP), administered by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, promotes voluntary adoption of conservation practices among farmers. While the program has more than 1,000 participants, the motivations for and barriers to farmer participation are not yet known. To increase farmer participation rates, it is important to understand the drivers of and barriers to participation.

This study examines the social-psychological factors that influence farmers’ participation in MAWQCP. We developed and applied a social science-based theoretical framework to assess factors that affect future likelihood of participation. We conducted a statewide survey of 2000 farmers, who are not currently participating in the program, and analyzed the data using structural equation modeling. Study findings show that beliefs about water pollution and conservation practices are important predictors of program participation. This study offers strategies for program administrators and resource professionals to best design programs that appeal to farmers’ motivations and address constraints to program participation.

11:00–11:20 – 1069: Improving Minnesota’s Strategies and Tools for Nutrient Reduction in Local and Downstream Waters

David Wall, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Minnesota’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) has been used for eight years to help guide Minnesota’s efforts to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus pollution of local waters, in addition to waters downstream of our state borders. The NRS outlines large-scale goals, practices and programs to achieve goals, and tracking systems to evaluate progress. The NRS and watershed nutrient loss reduction efforts rely on understanding the effectiveness of various best management practices (BMPs) in reducing nutrients at field and watershed scales. Minnesota is working together with other Midwest states to reassess BMP efficiencies and effectiveness, so that the most promising BMPs for achieving large-scale nutrient reduction goals can be identified. The best practices for Minnesota’s conditions will be determined as we update and improve our state NRS for the 2025–35 decade. The BMP science synthesis will also be used to update watershed decision support tools, thus improving our nutrient reduction scenarios for achieving goals at state lines and within our borders. One such tool, known as HSPF Scenario Application Manager (SAM), estimates typical watershed nutrient load reductions from various combinations of BMPs. Recently, a user-friendly web-based representation of SAM results was completed to help watershed planners readily obtain typical nutrient and sediment load reduction information from 30 different BMPs at HUC12 and HUC8 watershed outlets. This tool will be described and demonstrated. Additionally, the process of incorporating BMP science synthesis results into an improved NRS and watershed decision support tools will be described.

11:20–11:30 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Joel Larson
Co-moderator: Salam Murtada

10:00–10:20 – 1016: Efficacy of Membrane Bioreactor in Wastewater Treatment Utilizing Fathead Minnow (Pimephales Promelas) Exposure

Charles Christen, Alissa VanDenBoom, Molly Lovsness, Heiko Schoenfuss, St. Cloud State University

Wastewater comes from a variety of sources from industrial, commercial, and residential areas. Each source adds contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) that can interact with an organism’s cellular pathways and metabolic processes. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) are built to remove macro pollutants and bacterial nutrients through two-stage processes but are not optimized for CEC removal. Secondary treatment technologies range from well-established oxidative treatments to more recently developed membrane bioreactors (MBR). Oxidative treatments use agitators to promote bacterial growth and nutrient removal, while MBRs use a similar biological treatment but add membrane filtration. Previous research on CECs removal in oxidative treatments such as the one installed at the Hutchinson, MN WWTP documented that some CECs are passing through treatment into the environment (Lee et al., 2011). What is not known is how well MBR treated wastewater removes CECs. Since the previous study, the Hutchinson WWTP has split its influent and added a MBR treatment to parallel the oxidative treatment allowing for direct comparison of the efficacy of CEC removal by the two treatment processes using analytical chemistry and fish exposures. The objective of this study was to compare the CEC removal efficacy of MBR to that of oxidative treatment through 21-day exposure of fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) assessing endpoints related to contaminant exposure. Fathead minnows were exposed for 21-days via a flowthrough system to four treatments including a negative control, oxidative treatment, MBR effluent, and an influent captured past the primary treatment. Following exposure, plasma, liver, gonad, gills, and digestive tract were collected. Tissues were analyzed for indicators of CEC stressors in cellular pathways and metabolic processes. The entire experiment was repeated once.

10:20–10:40 – 1025: Municipal Wastewater Plants Meet Low-level Mercury Limits by Controlling Effluent-Suspended Solids

Nathan Johnson, Kelsey Hogan, Adrian Hanson, University of Minnesota Duluth; Scott Kyser, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Geordee Spilkia, Water Resources Science Program, University of Minnesota

Hundreds of municipal wastewater treatment plants (MWWTPs) in Great Lakes states, Ontario, numerous tribal nations and non-Great Lakes states have received low-level mercury effluent limits (<2 ng/L). Despite the widespread need for low-level mercury treatment design information, little research or practical guidance addresses low-level mercury treatment strategies for municipal wastewater. We collected samples at 15 MWWTPs located in the Great Lakes watershed and scoured the MPCA’s historic database to find over 1800 records from MWWTPs that have incorporated a variety of secondary and tertiary treatment technologies to remove mercury to permitted levels. The filter-passing mercury in MWWTP effluent was consistently between 0.4 and 0.8 ng/L, while particulate mercury varied widely and was covariate with TSS in most cases. Though filter-passing mercury comprises a substantial fraction of the discharge limit, effective particulate control (<2 mg/L) typically left mercury at <1.8 ng/L. Some MWWTPs with only secondary biological treatment were able to remove mercury to <1.8 ng/L, but most plants with tertiary treatment removed both TSS and mercury effectively. In MWW effluent, the sulfur content of filter-passing dissolved organic and inorganic sulfide and spectrophotometric characterization and elemental composition of dissolved organic matter suggests that the net effect of wastewater treatment on dissolved organic matter may impose a lower limit on the quantity of filter-passing mercury. The analysis of historic data from over 150 treatment plants gives an empirical picture of which technologies are most effective in removing mercury to low levels. Additionally, our analysis of dissolved organics, sulfur, and mercury across a variety of conditions in municipal wastewater points to a persistent, but not prohibitive quantity of filter-passing mercury that makes effective particulate removal essential to meeting Great Lakes mercury discharge limits.

10:40–11:00 – 1079: Measuring the Gross Solids in Stormwater and the Associated Nutrient Loading

Aaron Pietsch, John Chapman, Jacques Finlay, Larry Baker, Grace Wilson, University of Minnesota

In 2020 we began a study of gross solid materials washing off urban watersheds to better understand how these materials impact stormwater management. We hypothesize nutrients in gross solids, which are mostly not measured in conventional water quality sampling protocols, are an important part of watershed nutrient loading. This effort is looking at the total annual dry mass of material generated from watersheds and the associated nutrient content in the gross solids. Our methodology uses sample bags to trap material, which is collected about every two weeks, throughout the unfrozen months. This material is characterized by physical measurement of mass, particle size, settling velocity, loss on ignition, and nutrient analysis. We will discuss preliminary findings from the data collected in 2021 and 2022 in 14 urban watersheds and the potential impacts of course solids from highly vegetated areas to management of urban stormwater systems.

11:00–11:20 – 1056: Using Satellite Derived Water Quality Data from an Automated High-Performance Computing Environment for Spatial/Temporal Trend Analysis of 10,000+ Minnesota Lakes

Leif Olmanson, David Porter, University of Minnesota

Using Landsat imagery, we have been assessing lake water clarity in Minnesota, USA for over 25 years. For early assessments we used empirical methods and in situ Secchi calibration data. Recent advances in satellite technology (improved spatial, spectral, radiometric and temporal resolution) and atmospheric correction, along with cloud and supercomputing capabilities, have enabled development of automated regional-scale measurements of water quality. These new capabilities provide opportunities to improve lake and fisheries management by measuring more variables (chlorophyll, colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) and total suspended matter, the main determinants of water clarity) more frequently. Combining these new capabilities with earlier assessments, we created a 36-year (1985-2021) satellite-derived late summer water clarity database for long-term trends. To explore seasonal patterns, we create monthly water quality (clarity, chlorophyll, CDOM) data using all available May-Oct Landsat 8 and Sentinel 2 imagery from 2017 to 2021 for 10,000+ lakes. These maps and auxiliary data such as USGS Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection (LCMAP), weather and USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data were used for spatial/temporal analysis to explain regional differences in water quality. Areas dominated by forest/wetland had higher water clarity than agricultural/developed areas and shallower lakes had lower clarity than deep lakes with similar land cover. Changes in water clarity were attributed to changes in land use and climatic factors. Clarity increased in many urban lakes which was attributed to BMPs and development of agricultural lands. Clarity decreases were attributed to changes in precipitation, temperature and crop types. Differences in CDOM were related to precipitation and predominant land cover, with wetland/forested areas associated with higher CDOM than agricultural areas.

11:20–11:30 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Jim Stark, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Pooja Kanwar, Luigi Romolo, Dan Miller, Ellen Considine, Amanda Yourd, Carmelita Nelson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

This session will address the 2021 drought, through the DNR’s perspective, by exploring science, planning and effects. Presenters will describe the drought and the DNR’s planning, communication, and coordination efforts. Effects of the drought will be shared, including permit suspensions, well interferences, and conservation efforts. The session includes a case study, in northwestern Minnesota, illustrating the effects of water shortage. Presenters will discuss lessons learned, challenges and opportunities, ending with a group discussion.

11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m. – Lunch


Luncheon Session: PFAS and the Implications for Minnesota’s Water Resources

Matt Simcik, University of Minnesota

Dr. Simcik will present information on the scope of the PFAS issue in the environment. This will include the history of manufacture, the distribution of contamination, environmental impacts and some emerging remediation technologies.

1:15–2:45 – Concurrent Session V

Moderator: Ryan Johnson
Co-moderator: Leah Gifford

1:15–1:35 – 1023: Designing a Lower Salt Future

Connie Fortin, Tim Olson, Bolton & Menk

Excessive salt use on winter roads has become an emerging problem in recent decades. Now more than ever, it is time to take a hard look at infrastructure design to drive down salt use during winter months. In this presentation, we will identify infrastructure design problems and explore the future of cold climate infrastructure design to support winter maintenance professionals in the reduction of salt.

1:35–1:55 – 1046: Materials for Maximizing Phosphorus Removal from Stormwater

Nigel Pickering, Geosyntec Consultants; Md. Arafat Ali, University of Buffalo

Phosphorus (P) is the limiting nutrient in most freshwater ecosystems. Although P is an essential nutrient for plant life, excessive loading to receiving surface waters can result in algal blooms, toxic algae, large extents of macrophytes, and eventual eutrophication. Many stormwater management controls can remove particulate P easily through sedimentation and filtration processes, but dissolved P is much harder to remove.

This laboratory study systematically investigated a large spectrum of materials to improve dissolved P removal from biofiltration and bioswale systems. The project evaluated dissolved P removal efficiency of 40 different adsorptive materials through jar tests and adsorption isotherm kinetics, column tests that emulate biofiltration systems, and channel tests to emulate bioswales. The media evaluated in this study included metal-based materials, shell-based products, wood-based products including biochar, peat and compost materials and proprietary products.

The 40 materials evaluated using jar tests yielded 12 candidates for further testing using complete adsorption isotherms. Seven of these 12 materials were tested extensively in the columns and the 3 best materials from that study were chosen for the channel study. This presentation will show results based on completed laboratory experiments on the phosphorus adsorption, column studies, and bioswales experiments. The most suitable materials for P removal will be highlighted and future research directions suggested.

1:55–2:15 – 1055: Leveraging Minnesota’s Stormwater Monitoring Data to Better Understand Drivers of Urban Runoff Pollution

Ben Janke, Jacques Finlay, Bruce Wilson, St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota; Mike Trojan, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

We will present preliminary results of a project that analyzes available stormwater and spatial data collected by Minnesota cities, agencies, and watershed managers to understand how watershed and climate factors influence stormwater composition and loading for Minnesota’s cities. We have assembled data from nearly 100 piped storm drain sites across the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, including 80 with complementary hydrology data collection and 27 with data records spanning 10 or more years, which represent the efforts of over a dozen cities and watershed management organizations. Building on previous work we examine spatial and temporal variation in major urban stormwater pollutants such as phosphorus, nitrogen, sediment and metals as a function of factors including tree canopy cover, traffic density, and development age. Initial results suggest that variation in nutrient, sediment and metal concentrations are associated with different urban features, and show diverse but often improving temporal trends. Project outputs, which will be publicly available, will provide robust and locally-relevant stormwater characterization for urban watersheds in Minnesota, benefiting assessment, planning, and modeling of water quality management of urban watersheds, both for current and future scenarios of land management and climate. Information from this project will be incorporated into MPCA guidance and tools used by stormwater practitioners to calculate pollutant loading and reductions in loading associated with BMPs.

2:15–2:35 – 1076: Simultaneous Removal of Phosphate and Nitrate from Urban Runoff Using Mixtures of Taconite Byproduct and Wood-Waste-Derived Biochar

Tadele Haile, Bridget Ulrich, Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota Duluth; Karina Wellborg, Joe Magner, University of Minnesota

Biofiltration systems that utilize adsorptive filter media have the potential to remove multiple biological and chemical contaminants from urban stormwater. Utilization of filter media derived from waste material is a particularly attractive cost-effective approach. This study evaluated the efficiency of Minnesota-sourced iron ore mining byproduct (taconite tailings e.g., siderite and hematite) and waste-wood-derived biochar as biofiltration media for simultaneous removal of phosphate and nitrate from stormwater. Columns amended with biochar or taconite tailings were intermittently dosed with synthetic stormwater containing dissolved organic matter, and contaminant removal performance was evaluated relative to unamended sand columns. Enhanced phosphorus removal was observed for filter media mixtures containing siderite or hematite and observed phosphate breakthrough times for relatively high concentrations (5 mg/L) suggest that phosphate removal capacity could potentially be maintained for over a decade under typical phosphorus loadings. Furthermore, media mixtures containing siderite better maintained high filtration rates over time relative to biochar or hematite, attributed to its angular grain shape and particle size. Improved treatment of nitrate relative to other configurations was achieved by the siderite/biochar and hematite/biochar mixtures, though highly variable removal (likely due to fluctuating temperatures) resulted in mean removal rates of 51.7% and 37.5%, respectively. This suggests that while temperature fluctuations can negatively impact nitrate removal, biochar can provide performance benefits in terms of water holding capacity and resiliency to intermittent saturation. Our findings suggest that taconite tailings can be used as an alternative for iron-enhanced media for the effective removal of phosphorus, and that wood-derived biochar may improve resiliency of nitrate removal under unsaturated intermittent flow conditions.

2:35–2:45 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Jim Stark
Co-moderator: Jarod Trost

1:15–1:35 – 1027: Understanding Motivations for and Barriers to Well Water Testing

Amelia Kreiter, Mae Davenport, Crystal Ng, Scott Alexander, Amit Pradhananga, University of Minnesota; Jeff Broberg, Minnesota Well Owners Organization

How do private well owners view their own drinking water in agricultural landscapes? What drives and constrains well-water testing? In Minnesota, 75% of residents, or more than 4 million people, rely on groundwater for their drinking water and 25% rely on private wells. In this project, we aim to understand risk perceptions and motivations for well-water testing in two high risk areas: pineland sands and karst agro-eco regions of Minnesota. Groundwater management strategies in these areas have emphasized source water protection, but problems with nitrate and pesticide contamination persist. Some private well owners have been resistant to testing, and testing program leaders have suggested that they may not have a clear understanding of the risks or may even distrust the water testing process. Recent monitoring efforts indicate that up to one-third of Minnesota households routinely drink contaminated well water in high risk areas. A mail survey of 800 private well owners reveals varied perceptions of drinking water and offers insights into existing physical and psychological constraints to testing. This interdisciplinary research integrates climate, social, and water sciences to develop a practical communication toolbox to empower private well-owners to take action to protect their households.

1:35–1:55 – 1028: Finally, Financial Assistance for Private Well Testing and Treatment: The Experience of Two Pilot Grants

Emily Berquist, Minnesota Department of Health; Caitlin Brady, Olmsted Soil and Water Conservation District; Jessica Peterson, Horizon Public Health

A safe and reliable source of drinking water is an essential condition for healthy communities. About 1.2 million Minnesotans get their drinking water from a private well. Unlike people who get their water from a public water system, private well users (PWU) are responsible for ensuring their water is safe to drink by regularly testing and treating the water and maintaining their well. Arsenic, nitrate, manganese, coliform bacteria, and lead are common contaminants in private well water and can lead to short- and long-term health effects. A 2016 survey of Minnesota PWU found that less than 20% of PWUs regularly test their water; 34% did not take action to reduce exposure to elevated arsenic; and 15% cited cost as a barrier to treatment. To help protect the health of PWU, Horizon Public Health (HPH) and Olmsted County Soil and Water Conservation District (Olmsted SWCD) developed new partnerships with county organizations, SWCDs, and the private sector to establish local programs to promote well testing and provide financial assistance to reduce contamination. This presentation will share these grant-funded-programs’ results, promising practices, and lessons learned.

HPH’s program focused on counties where over 25% of private wells have arsenic detections above 10 ppb (the amount allowed in public drinking water): Grant (38%), Stevens (30%), and Traverse (27%). Olmsted SWCD’s program focused on six southeastern counties with elevated nitrate concentrations and active karst geology. Each program featured innovative approaches, such as media campaigns, well screening clinics, and distributing well test kits through local early-childhood, Veteran, and social services programs and provided financial assistance for water treatment, well repair, or well construction. These programs can serve as a framework for local and statewide private well testing and treatment programs to serve the 1.2 million Minnesotans who get their drinking water from a private well.

1:55–2:15 – 1037: High Nitrate! Part 2: The City of Fairmont’s Implemented Projects to Contribute to the Solution

Becca Vermace, Brendan Dougherty, Michelle Stockness, Kurt Leuthold, Barr Engineering Co.; Troy Nemmers, Tyler Cowing, City of Fairmont; Kerry Holmberg, Joe Magner, University of Minnesota

Over the last three years, the city has collaborated with multiple stakeholders to share data, develop long term strategies, and secure grant funding for water quality improvements and fish habitat creation within the Dutch Creek watershed. Collaborating agencies include Martin Co. SWD, MPCA, MDH, MDA, and the University of Minnesota. Dutch Creek drains 9,000 acres of agricultural land west of Fairmont in SW Minnesota. The creek is one of the largest tributaries to the city’s chain of lakes, which is the public drinking water source, and nitrate levels have been increasing. In 2019 the city was awarded a grant to design and install a bioreactor to remove nitrates from cold spring runoff. Nitrate levels are typically high in the Spring, and bioreactors generally are less effective when the runoff is cold. The bioreactor design includes a greenhouse to passively heat the runoff before flowing through the bioreactor. A second grant was awarded to create northern pike spawning habitat. Northern pike prey on young carp and can effectively control carp numbers, a fish notorious for degrading water quality. Both projects were substantially complete in 2021, and final completion is scheduled for June 2022.

This presentation will update attendees on initial monitoring and operational data. The bioreactor was designed with monitoring in mind and has several features that allow for adjustments to water levels and flow rates. Temperature probes have been installed to determine if the innovative passive heating is effective. Samples are being taken upstream and downstream of the bioreactor to measure nitrate concentrations and determine bioreactor effectiveness. If the passively heated bioreactor design proves to be effective, the design can be scaled up and installed throughout the watershed. Observations of the fish species and fish activity within the created wetland will also be discussed. The goal of both projects is to provide safe drinking water and improve water quality.

2:15–2:35 – 1053: Groundwater Governance in the Great Lakes Region

Carrie Jennings, Eileen Kirby, Freshwater; Terin Mayer, University of Minnesota

Water is life, and though hidden, groundwater plays an increasingly important role in sustaining communities and ecosystems, particularly in a changing climate. In this engagement-centered foundational research, we describe the current status of groundwater governance and threats to groundwater in Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, encompassing six Great Lakes states and 35 federally recognized tribes with trust lands that share the geography. Informed by extensive interviews with state, federal, and tribal agencies involved in groundwater management in addition to document review, we examine the hydrogeological setting of the region, including what types of data exist and where, who is producing it, and if and how it is communicated. We develop a relational network database describing the connections and interactions of actors, policy institutions, and policy outcomes in the region, looking not only at state and tribal agencies that have formal roles in groundwater regulation, but also at the various local and regional governments that exist in the groundwater and adjacent policy domains. We provide a delineation of authority and responsibility to regulate, assign property rights, assess penalties, give payments, and recruit into voluntary programs. We also enumerate the types of intergovernmental interactions that exist, with particular attention to the unique challenges faced by Native Nations in protecting and governing water which often crosses jurisdictional boundaries, and identify where gaps and missing links in groundwater policy processes exist. Governance structures vary widely across the region, as does the quality and density of monitoring data. The project will conclude in October 2022 following a relationship-building convening of people involved in groundwater governance intended to generate more collaborative and informed governance processes.

2:35–2:45 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Erik Brenna
Co-moderator: Kimberly Hill

1:15–1:35 – 1013: Identifying Incremental Changes to Reservoir Operations to Reduce Flooding Impacts on Agricultural Lands in a Heavily Regulated System

Brett Hultgren, US Army Corps of Engineers

Straddling the boundary between Canada and North Dakota, the Souris River reservoir system serves as an important water supply source while also providing flood protection for downstream communities and landowners. Due to its unique hydrology, geomorphology, and economic setting, priorities of those living and working in the basin vary significantly depending on their location along the river. To assess the pros and cons of various operating alternatives in the International Joint Commission’s Souris River Plan of Study, the study team developed a robust reservoir model along with a suite of performance indicators related to water supply, flood control, and agricultural, environmental, and cultural impacts. While the reservoir system is very physically constrained, strong relationships with landowners throughout the basin along with sophisticated statistical analyses and data visualization techniques allowed the study team to identify areas of the operating plan that could be modified to better serve agricultural producers along the river while still meeting the overarching water supply and flood control goals of the reservoir system. Sharing the techniques and challenges of not only analytically evaluating alternatives but also communicating the results of a complex reservoir model to those living and working in the basin will help future studies analyze alternatives and achieve buy-in from stakeholders.

1:35–1:55 – 1057: Sediment Source Delineation for the Little Fork River Basin Using Sediment Fingerprinting and Sediment Budgeting Techniques

Anna Baker, Faith Fitzpatrick, Shelby Stearner, US Geological Survey; Mike Kennedy, Jesse Anderson, Kevin Stroom, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency; Sam Soderman, Koochiching County SWCD; Phil Norvitch, North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District; Andy Kasun, Karen Gran, University of Minnesota Duluth.

Excess sediment is a leading cause of habitat degradation in our rivers and streams. Sediment can also serve as a vector for phosphorus which may in turn play a role in driving harmful algal blooms in downstream waters. The Little Fork River in northern Minnesota is a disproportionate source of sediment to the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Basin and has been a focal point for monitoring and management by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) over the past decade. To address excess sediment and associated phosphorus in the Little Fork, the MPCA identified a need for improved understanding of the sources of sediment and sediment bound phosphorus to the basin. To address this question, the U.S. Geological Survey is working in collaboration with MPCA, Koochiching Soil and Water Conservation District, and North St. Louis Soil and Water Conservation District to delineate sources of sediment and sediment bound phosphorus for the Little Fork Watershed using geochemical sediment fingerprinting and sediment budgeting and techniques. In 2021, sediment samples were collected to support geochemical fingerprinting and rapid geomorphic assessments were conducted to support sediment budget development. The sediment samples represent potential sources including upland sources such as mature and recently harvested forests, agricultural fields, wetlands, and roadways, and near-channel sources such as streambanks, eroding valley sides, and ravines. In this presentation we will detail the sediment fingerprinting methods being implemented, the preliminary findings of our sediment budget, and progress toward delineation of the sources of fluvial suspended sediment for the Little Fork.

1:55–2:15 – 1080: Sustainable Nutrient Removal by Immobilized Cell Bioreactor Performing Denitrifying Anaerobic Methane Oxidation Coupled with Ammonia Oxidation

Susma Bhattarai Gautam, Chan Lan Chun, Christopher Filstrup, Natural Resources Research Institute

Exploration of novel and economic ways to remove excess nutrients from wastewater and agriculture runoff is required to achieve sustainable nutrient management. This work aims to investigate a novel process of denitrification coupled with anaerobic methane oxidation (N-DAMO) in combination with annamox processes for development of a stable and cost-effective nitrogen removing technology. Given the slow growth rates of microbial consortia involved in the process and low solubility of methane in water, an immobilized cell bioreactor was used to carry out the process. A mixture of zeolite and siderite-rich minerals was selected as a biocarrier based on their porous surface and high sorption affinity of ammonia and nitrate. Initially, batch bioreactors with the biocarrier were inoculated with methane-enriched cultures of biomass from anaerobic digestors, thickened activated sludge, and wetland sediments. The bioreactors were fed with methane as the sole carbon sources and incubated at 30oC with controls (no culture and blank without biocarrier). Microbial activities were monitored over 200 days by measuring nitrogen species. Bioreactors with biomass from the anaerobic digestor and activated sludge showed denitrification and ammonia removal with 150-200 µM nitrate /day and 50-100 µM ammonia /day respectively after a 40–day lag time with methane as a sole carbon source. To confirm active anaerobic methanotrophs, denitrifiers, and anaerobic ammonia oxidation, microbial community analysis and quantification of their associated functional genes are in progress. Further investigation and upscaling of this novel process for engineered treatment systems will be a promising solution to inexpensively remove nitrogen from waste streams (e.g., landfill leachate, municipal and agricultural wastewater).

2:15–2:35 – 1009: Precipitation and Landforms as the Main Drivers of Baseflow in the Upper Midwest

Satish Gupta, University of Minnesota; Kari Wolf, University of Wisconsin River Falls; Andrew Kessler, Houston Engineering

Baseflow depends upon water infiltration and subsequent redistribution within the soil profile. Factors controlling infiltration and redistribution are the landforms; surface and subsurface topography, soil type and sub-surface geology. In this study, we used daily streamflow data from 22 Iowa and 3 Minnesota rivers covering six landforms with varying tile drainage to characterize climate, landform, and tile drainage effects on several flow metrics. The flow metrics were streamflow, baseflow, baseflow ratio, area normalized discharge exceedance probabilities and recession variables. Considering climate variability and thus water availability at the soil surface, both streamflow and baseflow varied exponentially with annual precipitation. Baseflow and baseflow ratios were lower in rolling to steeper landform watersheds such as in Iowa Southern Drift Plain than watersheds in low relief Des Moines Lobe. This suggests that more water was infiltrating through depressions in Des Moines Lobe watersheds compared to more surface runoff from rolling to steep Drift Plain watersheds. Baseflow ratios were nearly similar from early 1940s to early 2010s for the Des Moines Lobe landscape even though tile drainage has increased substantially; further suggesting that the landform features and not the increased tile drainage is controlling baseflow through the Upper Midwest landscapes. Variations in flow duration curves over several decades were similar between the non-tiled and tiled watersheds thus suggesting that the variations are a reflection of varying climate and not an effect of tiled drainage. The presentation further discusses the differences in recession variables in the context of infiltration and percolation between different landforms.

2:35–2:45 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Lorin Hatch
Co-moderator: Jeff Standish

Joe Magner, Gary Sands, University of Minnesota; Nadia Alsadi, MCEA; Rita Weaver, BWSR; Chuck Brandel, ISG; John Kolb, Rieke Noonan

Many older drainage systems in MN are undersized and in need of improvements, including ways to accommodate a shift towards a wetter climate and allow cropland to remain viable. However, watershed protection and water quality improvement efforts may call for storing more water on the land. Here we give a southern MN case example addressing this challenge, offering inputs from state agency, industry, legal (e.g., Statute 103E), and historical perspectives. A panel discussion will follow.


Poster and Vendor Refreshment Break

3:15–4:45 – Concurrent Session VI

Moderator: Rick Voigt
Co-moderator: Kimberly Hill

3:15–3:35 – 1036: St. Croix River Riverbank Stabilization and Riverwalk Project

Angly Ulschmid, AMI Consulting Engineers, PA; Shawn Sanders, City of Stillwater Public Works

The project is located along the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, in Washington County, Minnesota. The City of Stillwater project includes the stabilization and restoration of approximately 3700 linear feet of eroded river banks along the western shoreline of the St. Croix River. Incorporated within the shoreline, a new Riverwalk will serve as a key connection section to the exiting St. Croix Valley trail system. AMI Consulting Engineers and the City of Stillwater worked with multiple stakeholders including federal, state, and local agencies. Strict environmental and regulatory compliance was required, two areas of environmental sensitivity were defined to preserve and protect important and unique cultural and natural resources within the project boundaries, including threatened and endangered species discovered during the environmental review process. Design modifications were made to avoid impact to the multiple species, and to include conservation measures and create special habitat features beneficial to the aquatic and terrestrial species, one of them found for the first time since the listing, making it a marvelous discovery of great environmental significance.

3:35–3:55 – 1038: Phosphorus Load Reduction Using Stream Bank Stabilization—A Ten-Year Follow-Up

Amy Anderson, WSB

In 2010 the City of Princeton, Minnesota entered into a phosphorus reduction agreement as a condition of a permitted expansion to the municipal wastewater treatment facility. The City agreed to stabilize five eroding streambank sites with a goal of reducing phosphorus loading to the Rum River by 10,000 pounds annually. Phosphorus trading was a cost-effective alternative to point-source reductions of phosphorus that also addressed water quality on the Rum River which is listed as impaired for phosphorus. Stabilization treatments included engineered log jams, tree revetments, bank grading, and installation of native seeding and live stakes. This project is only the third point/non-point trading project approved within the state of Minnesota by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Construction for the project began in 2012 and was completed in 2015.

Ten years after the phosphorus reduction agreement was finalized and five years after the final project was accepted by regulatory agencies, the City of Princeton now monitors the five stabilization sites on a monthly basis during the growing season and submits an annual report to the MPCA on the condition of the sites as part of its wastewater permitting activities. City staff and WSB staff have partnered to improve stabilization and maintenance activities in order to maintain bank stability while decreasing costs to the City budget. Project team members will present details of specific stabilization activities used, permitting and regulatory requirements, and lessons learned during maintenance and inspection activities.

3:55–4:15 – 1070: Norway Lake Dam Removal and Rock Riffle Installation Project, City of Pine River, Cass County, MN

Brent Johnson, Jammi Ladwig, Dustin deFelice, Bryan Drown, Andrew Beadell, Bolton & Menk, Inc.

The Norway Lake Dam was removed and replaced with rock-arch rapids in 2022 by the City of Pine River. Removal of the dam and construction of the rapids restored fish passage and connectivity between the Pine River and the Whitefish Chain of Lakes and reconnected 134 lakes and 80 miles of river and stream corridors benefiting fish, mussels and many game and non-game animal species. Replacing the high hazard dam with a rock riffle improved safety. The riffle pools and meandering low flow channel also enhance aesthetics, public access and recreational opportunities for fishing and paddling.

A historic resource, the Pine River Swimming Area, was previously determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and is located adjacent to the project area. Despite the project designer’s best efforts, it was not possible to meet a no adverse effect determination to the historic resource while still meeting the needs of the project. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was developed between the lead Federal agency (US Army Corps of Engineers) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) which outlined mitigation measures for the adverse effect the project would have upon the resource. An interpretive sign will be installed near the Pine River Swimming Area by June 30, 2022, to fully satisfy the mitigation stipulations in the MOA.

The presentation will outline the project goals and achievements and will describe aspects of the planning, funding, engineering, environmental and cultural review, and construction.

4:15–4:35 – 1073: Use of Sand Budgeting and Transport Modeling to Infer Historical Geomorphic Impacts in the Little Fork River Basin, MN

Andy Kasun, Karen Gran, University Minnesota Duluth

Anthropogenic disturbances from logging or agriculture can increase runoff and sediment delivery to streams. A geomorphic sediment budget can quantify sediment loading, yet budgets rarely incorporate coarse sediment (sand) due to complexities related to sediment delivery and transport times. These complexities, however, may be utilized to understand longer timescale geomorphic impacts from past land use change. The Little Fork River in northern Minnesota was logged historically and has been identified as a significant contributor of sediment to the Rainy-Lake of the Woods Basin. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently set turbidity targets and needs information on sediment sources across the basin. This project seeks to augment a fine sediment budget being conducted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) (Baker, A., et al.) for the Little Fork by adding a sand component, defining sand sources and estimating transport times. The USGS-led team conducted a field-based erosion inventory that included rapid geomorphic assessments (RGAs) and sediment sampling of source areas for elemental fingerprinting and grain size analyses. In addition to USGS efforts, sand-targeted sampling was completed for ravines, floodplains and road crossings, and grain size distributions measured to characterize sand inputs and/or storage across the basin. Remote analyses of lidar topography, land cover, and geology are being used to extrapolate erosion rates to determine basin-wide sediment contributions. Sediment data are being combined with stream reach characteristics to feed a sand transport model. Initial findings indicate erosion in the riparian corridor is most correlated to high slopes near the channel, with main-stem bank erosion correlated with valley geometry. Sand is likely sourced from the stream corridor, with sand storage composing roughly a third of floodplain deposition in the lower reaches. Additional results, including transport modeling, will conclude by August 2022.

4:35–4:45 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Keri Benjamin
Co-moderator: Ron Leaf

3:15–3:35 – 1068: Cumberland, WI: The Little Town with a Big Vision

Jay Michels, Derek Lash, EOR, INC; Tom Schroeder, Beaver Dam Lake Management District

In 2010 the City of Cumberland, in partnership with the Beaver Dam Lake Management District, set out to implement an ambitious Lake Management Plan that aimed to clean up the priceless recreational amenity of Beaver Dam Lake and reorient the historic downtown district to Library Lake which has suffered major environmental degradation over the last 50+ years. This effort has produced significant results to date including the reduction of tons of sediment and lbs. of phosphorus to Beaver Dam Lake and Library Lake each year, as well as improvements in open space and habitat around each lake. This presentation will tell the story of our 10-year, ongoing effort that links science and engineering with enthusiastic community support to create a success story for other small communities to study and emulate.

3:35–3:55 – 1074: Understanding Diverse Water Values in the Twin Cities, Minnesota

Sarah Roth, Mae Davenport, Bonnie Keeler, University of Minnesota; John Clark, Jennifer Kostrzewski, Metropolitan Council

The Twin Cities Metropolitan Planning Region consists of seven counties comprising 187 communities, with over 100 public drinking water suppliers, 33 watershed management organizations, and one regional wastewater operator. This complex network of water managers, service providers, and state regulators are responsible for ensuring public health, water safety, and water sustainability. Although these groups represent a wide range of local, regional and state viewpoints, community perspectives can be missing from decision-making conversations.

When policymakers, water professionals, and community members are better informed about the cultural values or water and the value tradeoffs of water decisions, decisions become more transparent, decision makers are more accountable, and outcomes are more socially just.

The University of Minnesota (UMN) along with state and regional partners has conducted a series of surveys with Twin Cities residents to assess water values and perceptions of water problems across geographic and social variables of difference such as age, gender, cultural identity, and community attachment. Additionally, surveys inquired about residents’ beliefs about water and water systems, attitudes towards water management, and water-related behaviors. Following the survey efforts, UMN and Metropolitan Council staff hosted virtual focus groups with water decision makers and professionals to reflect on and interpret survey findings and to prioritize action steps for community-centered water planning and policy. Survey findings revealed important differences among social and cultural variables in water values, beliefs, and actions. Focus group participants identified opportunity areas for applying survey findings and conducting further social science research. This study offers strategies for community-centered science, regional water planning and policy, and local water management.

3:55–4:15 – 1078: Consensus Building for a Mega-Project: the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit

Jacques DuVal, David Filipiak, SRF Consulting Group, Inc.

The Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit (GBRT) Project will provide Bus Rapid Transit service from downtown Saint Paul to the Woodlane Drive Station Park-And-Ride facility in Woodbury. The Project corridor will consist of 7.0 miles of dedicated guideway and 3.2 miles of mixed traffic roadways primarily following the TH 94 and Bielenberg Drive corridors through the cities of Saint Paul, Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale, and Woodbury. In addition, the Project will construct or reconstruct impacted roadways, station areas, pedestrian and bicycle access ways, and park-and-ride facilities, resulting in an estimated 92 acres of new and reconstructed impervious surface. These impacts trigger requirements of several regulatory agencies relating to water quality treatment, stormwater discharge rate control and floodplain management.

The Stormwater Management Plan for the Project corridor includes 35 BMPs, approximately 31 structural pollution control devices, over 1,200 drainage structures and more than 13 miles of storm sewer pipes. The 35 BMPs provide over 10 acre-feet of water quality volume.

The planning process for stormwater management spanned a three year period involving coordination with staff from the various stakeholders, including the five municipalities, two watershed districts, and MnDOT. The process included monthly Stormwater Issues Resolution Team meetings, review of applicable BMPs via the Project’s BMP Toolbox, and a survey of the various stakeholders of BMP preferences including maintenance, to develop the ultimate stormwater management plan. This presentation will focus on some of the processes the project used to build consensus with all the various stakeholders and how the team overcame a few of the design challenges to meet project and stakeholder goals and regulatory requirements.

4:15–4:35 – 1029: Groundwater Protection and Conservation: Experiences and Results at the Local Government Level

Kelly Perrine, Mark Kruse, City of Lakeville; Travis Thiel, Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization

Severe drought conditions like those experienced in 2021 demonstrated to our water-centric State that groundwater needs to be protected and conserved on a broader scale. A drought shouldn’t be the only reason why protecting or conserving groundwater resources is considered. Many of the tools and activities used to address groundwater protection and conservation aren’t well-known or well-established; funding for water quantity projects and programs is very limited; and existing policies can be confusing, are contentious, are difficult to enforce, or they simply don’t exist yet in Minnesota. The City of Lakeville and Vermillion River Watershed have been working to implement activities to address this need at a local level. Activities include stormwater reuse and irrigation on public and private lands, irrigation system audits and improvements, soil amendments and decompaction at City Parks, and planting seed varieties that require less water than common turfgrass varieties. Staff will present results and data from our activities, lessons learned, and how these lessons are guiding our organizations with new programs and policies.

4:35–4:45 – Open Discussion

Moderator: Dave Wall
Co-moderator: Marcey Westrick

3:15–3:35 – 1001: Using Climate Data to Improve Nitrogen Fertilizer Decisions

Brad Carlson, University of Minnesota Extension; Dan Kaiser, Stefan Liess, University of Minnesota

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for nitrogen (N) fertilizer were first adopted in Minnesota in the mid-1990’s. It is important to realize that BMPs are not requirements, but recommendations that require the user to understand the “default” conditions on which they are based, and under what circumstances deviation is warranted. Changes in climate factors such as precipitation, season length, and soil temperature are increasingly challenging University of Minnesota Extension staff to clarify their recommendations from one year to the next. A wide range of climate data and trends over the last 30 years were examined and compared to climatic conditions when N fertilizer BMPs were first adopted. This information is being used to discuss N management with farmers so they can make decisions that benefit both the environment and their bottom line. Some of this information will eventually be used for a revision to Minnesota’s N BMPs.

3:35–3:55 – 1015: Improved Cost Estimates for Agricultural Conservation Practices

Mark Deutschman, International Water Institute

The cost to achieve water quality goals is an essential piece of information necessary for assessing whether the expected societal benefits are worthy of investment. Within the United States, taxes generate the “public money” to pay to improve water quality. State and Federal Agencies distribute the public’s money to local governments and landowners as grants and cost-share to implement agricultural conservation practices (“practices”). Comparing the cost to improve water quality and the anticipated public benefit helps inform the investment decision.

The lack of a robust method for estimating the cost of practices and developing a Water Quality Strategy hampers the ability to compare cost and benefits. Within Minnesota and North Dakota, Water Quality Practitioners commonly use the Prioritize, Target, Measure Application (PTMApp) to develop strategies to improve water quality. PTMApp utilizes the Environmental Quality Incentives Program payment as a surrogate to estimate practice cost. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program payment is a percentage of the estimated cost to implement a typical practice scenario, excluding the labor to plan, design and permit the practice; inspect the practice during construction; operate and maintain the practice; finance costs; and in most cases forgone income.

We addressed the need for estimates of practice cost by developing Useful Life Total Costs (UTLCs) for 23 practices. Useful Life Total Costs incurred throughout the practice life cycle begin with planning and end with reconstruction to maintain proper function. We developed multiple ULTCs (year 2020) for each practice by bracketing the range of design variations and sizes. Legacy PTMApp costs ranged from 1% to 55% of the Useful Life Total Cost, confirming underestimation of the actual practice costs.

Cost functions developed by selecting the best-fit line between the ULTCs and a predominant practice physical characteristic are useful for developing Water Quality Strategies. The cost functions, recently incorporated into PTMApp, considerably improve the ability to estimate the actual cost to achieve water quality goals and societal benefits.

3:55–4:15 – 1007: Quantification of Water Storage Benefits at Various Levels of Cover Crop Applications

Salam Murtada, Daniel Reinartz, Steve Kloiber, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Climate change and land-use alterations have significantly altered Minnesota’s watershed hydrology, increasing the urgency to explore water storage options to address flooding, damage to infrastructure and agriculture, water quality degradation, erosion and natural system stability. This presentation examines the benefits of soil health improvement through perennial cover crop application as a viable option for providing water storage; and reducing peak flow, discharge volume, and sediment loading.

Recent studies have shown that extensive cover crop application, through computer simulation, reduced peak flow and discharge volume by up to 30% and 40%, respectively, particularly during the non- and early growing season, when the ground was otherwise fallow.

The MNDNR simulated extensive adoption of this practice throughout the cultivated crop areas, comprising up to 70% of the total watershed for the following watersheds: North Branch Whitewater River (Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona), Gorman Creek (Wabasha), Dobbins Creek (Mower), Shakopee Creek (Chippewa, Kandiyohi, Swift), and Huse Creek (Kandiyohi).

For this multi-watershed study, a physically based distributive hydrologic model simulated gradual perennial crop application, in increments of 10%-20%, to develop a watershed-specific correlation between the level of application and water storage benefits. Cover crops were varied systematically and gradually using the land capability classification and productivity index to guide the spatial application using GIS. Results show that benefits of cover crop application are realized early in the process.

The performance curves showing the relationship between cover crop application and storage benefits can be used as an initial planning tool to project these benefits based on the level of soil health improvements.

4:15–4:35 – 1008: Ravine Erosion in the Minnesota River Watershed: Permanent Sediment Traps to Improve Highway Safety and Reduce Maintenance

Stephanie Rathburn, Sarah Barnett, Alliant Engineering; Nathan Pederson, Minnesota Department of Transportation

The Minnesota River watershed is dotted with narrow ravines that empty out onto the River’s floodplain. The transition from steep, narrow ravines to flat, wide floodplain creates alluvial fan conditions at the ravine outlets. Many of these ravines experience gully erosion from erosive, high velocity flow, which is deposited onto the floodplain when the water slows down and spreads out. In locations far from homes, roads, or other infrastructure, the natural sedimentation process can generally be left alone. However, when this process occurs adjacent to infrastructure, the sedimentation can be a safety hazard or create costly and time-consuming maintenance for public agencies.

Outside of Morton, MN along Trunk Highway 19, a small ravine experiencing large amounts of gully erosion emptied into the ditch between the highway and the Minnesota Prairie Line Railroad. The sediment deposition from the ravine regularly filled in the entire ditch, covered the tracks, and plugged the culvert beneath the highway. Alliant worked with MnDOT District 8 to develop a permanent solution to improve the safety of the highway and the railroad, as well as simplify the maintenance of sediment removal. The Alliant/MnDOT team worked closely with the project stakeholders and adjacent property owners, from concept development through construction. This presentation will provide an overview of this successful project.

4:35–4:45 – Open

Moderator: Lorin Hatch
Co-moderator: Ann Banitt

Joe Magner, Gary Sands, University of Minnesota; Nadia Alsadi, MCEA; Rita Weaver, BWSR; Chuck Brandel, ISG; John Kolb, Rieke Noonan

Many older drainage systems in MN are undersized and in need of improvements, including ways to accommodate a shift towards a wetter climate and allow cropland to remain viable. However, watershed protection and water quality improvement efforts may call for storing more water on the land. Here we give a southern MN case example addressing this challenge, offering inputs from state agency, industry, legal (e.g., Statute 103E), and historical perspectives. A panel discussion will follow.