Watershed Water Plan Closer to Full Approval

River Watershed District's water management plan for the next 10 years has passed another hurdle.

Earlier this month, the Board of Water and Soil Resources Southern Regional Committee in New Ulm reviewed the plan and approved it unanimously. The plan next goes to the full Board of Water Resources for final approval in St. Paul mid-December.

Watershed districts are required by state statute to operate on 10-year water management plans. The district's first plan was established in 2004, and this second plan is an update of that plan.

"In our first 10 years, we knew it was important to address the root cause of our water quality changes," said district Administrator Brett Behnke in a news release. "We have had a lot of success in this time, including significant stream bank stabilization projects, upgrading nearly

700 failing septic systems and managing rough fish in upstream lakes and streams with the installation of a series of fish barriers."

Behnke said the dredging of Fountain Lake is a big part of the district's next 10-year plan, along with developing a plan for managing Albert Lea Lake.

"As the Fountain Lake reclamation gets underway, we will switch focus to the Albert Lea Lake," he said.

This could include dredging parts of that lake as well, along with shoreline restoration and other work on the west basin of the lake.

"The plan is going to be a massive plan, but it's going to benefit wildlife, recreation, fishing and boat use," Behnke said. "We want to take all of those things into account,"

Director of Field Operations Andy Henschel said the district has learned a lot about the lakes in the first 10 years and has improved water clarity.

"I've heard from so many lake users that they can see the bottom of both lakes for the first in many years," he said.

Henschel said in the last 10 years, the district has leveraged sales tax dollars to bring in over $25 million in grant money. The district plans to continue to collaborate with the city of Albert Lea for many projects including flood retention and mitigation, stonn water management, best practices and reducing pollutants and water volume leading to the lake.


© 2015 Shell Rock River Watershed District, 305 S 1st Avenue, Albert Lea, MN 56007