The RLWD Water Quality Project
The RLWD Water Quality Project has been active since 1984, reflecting the heightened awareness and increased concern for water quality from agencies and general public alike. The RLWD currently monitors 79 sites located throughout all major sub-watersheds within the watershed basin at least four times per year. The District, with the help of East Polk SWCD and community volunteers, sample many lakes within the watershed. These sites are also sampled at least four times per year. Some of these sites are U.S. Geologic Survey gauge sites and will remain permanent. The other sites may be changed to accommodate project needs and assessment strategies.
The RLWD Water Quality Project has produced a database for a wide variety of water quality indicators, including dissolved oxygen, water temperature, conductivity, pH, total phosphorus, orthophosphorus, total suspended solids (TSS), total dissolved solids (TDS), total Kjeldahl nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, nitrates and nitrites, fecal coliform, Chlorophyll a, and Biochemical oxygen demand. Since May of 2005, water quality samples have also been analyzed for Escherichia (E.) coli bacteria in order to conform to changing MPCA standards for pathogen monitoring.
Specific water quality issues vary with terrain, ecoregion, land use, season, and local hydrologic conditions. Project data reveals, for example, that dissolved oxygen is problematic in regions with large influxes of ground water and in wetland reaches with large amounts of oxygen-consuming vegetative decay. This is often compounded by elevated levels of phosphorus and nitrogen introduced by runoff from the surrounding land.
Soil erosion is another major problem within the Red Lake River Basin and throughout the entire Red River Basin. Best Management practices such as contour plowing and sediment barriers have helped to slow the pace of stream degredation, but land users and government must continue to invest time and resources to reverse the trend.
Water Quality Projects and Reports
The purpose of the Watershed District is to provide local organization to coordinate all water management decisions in the Watershed. Through these projects, local people are provided with legal and financial authority with which to act upon locally initiated projects aimed at solutions to water problems. Below is a listing of RLWD projects.