Public meetings features Crow River Watershed project

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 3/1/00.

A series of open houses planned this spring will highlight a nine-county effort to improve water quality in the Crow River watershed.

Kandiyohi, Meeker, Carver, Hennepin, Pope, Renville, Sibley, McLeod, and Wright counties have signed a joint powers agreement to conduct research and projects in the watershed to improve water quality in the Crow River.

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) project is part of a large effort to improve water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. The Crow River, composed of the north, middle and south forks, empties into the Mississippi River near Rogers.

At the open houses, people will learn about local efforts to improve water quality in the Crow River and a monitoring plan to assess current conditions and future changes. Interested citizens will be encouraged to sign up for training to become volunteer stream monitors.

In early 1999, the CROW project received a grant from the state board of water and soil resources to fund a watershed coordinator position. It also received a $454,000 federal grant through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The money will help pay for best management practices such as erosion-control, storm water manage-ment, and promotion of effective agricultural waste systems in the watershed. In October 1999, the nine-county joint powers board hired Jennifer Lee as watershed coordinator. Her office is located in the Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Litchfield.

The project recently received a metro environment partnership grant from the Metropolitan Council. In November 2000, CROW plans to apply with the MPCA for a Clean Water Partnership grant. The application includes develop-ment of a monitoring plan for the three branches of the Crow River. The open houses will give citizens a chance to give input on the proposed monitoring plan and discuss potential pollution problems.

The CROW project will be working with several existing watershed districts in the area. The North Fork Crow River Watershed District was established in 1985. From its office in Brooten it coordinates funding, research, and water quality improvement projects in the North Fork area above the Lake Koronis outlet. This includes portions of Pope, Stearns, Kandiyohi, and Meeker counties. Other cooperating watershed districts are Buffalo Creek, which flows into the south fork near Lester Prairie, and the Pioneer-Sarah Creek watershed in Hennepin County.

For more information on the Crow River project, contact Jennifer Lee at 320-693-7287, extension three.

Public meetings scheduled for the Paynesville area are:

March 7: 7 to 9 p.m., Meeker County Family Service Center, Litchfield.

March 13: 7 to 9 p.m., Pope-Stearns counties at Belgrade Municipal Hall, Belgrade.

March 21: 7 to 9 p.m., Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building multi-purpose room, north Highway 71, Willmar.

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