One Watershed, One Plan: Local decisions, local planning

Times Report
Crookston Times

    One Watershed, One Plan (1W1P) is rooted in work initiated by the Local Government Water Roundtable (Association of Minnesota Counties, Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts, and Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts).

    In 2013, the Roundtable recommended that the local governments organize to develop focused implementation plans based on watershed boundaries. In 2016, the Roundtable developed policy recommendations for funding plan implementation.

    The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) 1W1P program brings together Minnesota’s water authorities: SWCDs, counties, watershed districts, and cities to collaborate for the improvement of water quality and quantity through projects.

    This effort creates a systematic, watershed-wide, science-based approach to watershed management that would be implemented through these partnerships at the local level.

    Communication and preparation have proven to be key elements of successful partnerships.

    Plan development is led by several committees. The Steering committee (a.k.a. planning group) consists of local water management staff, such as a watershed district, county or SWCD and prepared by an outside consultant.

    A Policy committee consisting of elected officials from (but not limited to): Watershed District Boards, County Boards, and SWCD Boards that will approve the content of the plan, serve as a liaison to their representative governing entities and act on behalf of their constituents and an Advisory committee consisting of (but not limited to): state and local agencies, county, community, municipalities, non-profit, farm organizations/agriculture groups to provide input to the Policy Committee.

    The 1W1P establishes clear implementation timelines, milestones and cost estimates for restoration and protection activities. Combining multiple water planning efforts into one effort creates a more efficient and cooperative plan for water management.  The 1W1P program currently provides a dedicated level of funding for watersheds with an approved plan. These funds are allocated biennially through the Legislature and can be used to fund actions included in the plan.

    West Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) is a partner with three 1W1P efforts within watersheds that encompass West Polk County: Red Lake River 1W1P, Wild Rice-Marsh River 1W1P and the Middle Snake-Tamarac River 1W1P.

    The Red Lake River 1W1P was approved by BWSR in 2017.  Funding to implement prioritized conservation practices and flood damage reduction projects was received in 2018 and another grant in 2020.  

    This funding has been applied to installation of grade stabilization structures, water and sediment control basins, and ditch outlet stabilization projects.

    The Wild Rice-Marsh River 1W1P was approved by BWSR in 2020. Practices and projects were targeted where they can reduce the most sediment and have stacked benefits such as sediment reduction, water storage, flood damage reduction, water quality enhancement and habitat enhancement.  Implementation of these practices are anticipated to start summer/fall of 2021.

    The Middle Snake Tamarac-Rivers 1W1P was recently awarded the planning grant to start the plan development. In order to receive the grant award, the partnership demonstrated readiness and a commitment to work together and an understanding of the scope of work required for a successful planning effort.  Anticipated plan adoption is the summer of 2022.

    A statement from the WPRLWD: “Thank you to the Local Government Water Roundtable, Clean Water Council, and the Clean Water Legacy fund in order to support the effort to achieve local water management goals and more importantly support the partnerships and collaborative efforts for cleaner water in Minnesota.”