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Measuring Local Issues and Concerns

Recently, community members from Big Stone, Swift, Stevens, Grant, Douglas, and Otter Tail County have been coming together to talk about one thing we all have in common; the Pomme de Terre River. Whether you’re a lakeshore owner, an agricultural producer, an angler, or a city resident, the Pomme de Terre River and its watershed provides a long list of necessities to our community. Swimming, drainage, irrigation, community aesthetics, hygiene, industrial use, fish and wildlife, the list goes on.

On Oct. 23rd and 26th we hosted two Water Conversation events and has been promoting an online survey to gain local information about what people think about when they interact with our local waters.

To dive further into the “weeds” of these Water Conversations, The Pomme de Terre River Association has also formed a Citizens Advisory Committee of 24 community members representing various groups of community members such as landowners, lakeshore owners, ag producers, cities, etc.

One question we asked community members was “What activities or behaviors are impacting, or have the potential to impact our water resources?”. Impacts could be positive or negative.

Between the public events, Citizens Advisory meetings, and surveys, roughly 80 responses have been tallied. Popular comments included:

Agricultural Practices –  tilling, timing of fertilizer application, cover crops, drainage, water and sediment basins, and grassed waterways.

Development – impervious surfaces, wastewater, old septic systems, lawn irrigation, road salt, rain gardens, and shoreline development.

Other responses included aquatic invasive species, higher precipitation and flows, public awareness, aquifer recharge and depletion, and erosion.

Why are we gaining this information? We are currently undergoing the development of a 10-year plan to protect and improve local water resources. The first step in this process is to identify local concerns and issues. Once community issues are prioritized, we will begin to establish local water quality goals and will be holding another public event in late January 2018.

How can you get involved!? Our local plan is as strong as our local input. You can provide input by going to our web-page, www.pdtriver.org and taking our Participation and Public Awareness Survey!( https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1M-Kb-6oyQLq5FmLUL3DWotK61Xy-MKjIG0W6b_1Drmk/edit)


Pomme de Terre Watershed Bus Tour

The Pomme de Terre Watershed is moving into the One Watershed, One Plan planning process. During the creation of this ten-year planning document, involvement from a number of various counties, agencies, local units, and landowners is necessary to create a plan that focuses on our community needs, goals, and capacity. To accomplish this the Pomme de Terre has 3 committees: a Policy Committee, Planning Committee, and a Citizens Advisory Committee.

To kickoff the two-year planning processes, the Pomme de Terre wanted to hold a meeting where each of the Committees could come together to talk about the current state of our watershed. Except, instead of the usual round-table meeting, PDTRA with the help of 319 funding, put together a meeting on wheels.

The Watershed Bus Tour aimed to not only talk, but give people the big-picture view of what’s happening in the watershed. We traveled from the headwaters of the Pomme de Terre in Otter Tail County all the way to its mouth just bellow Appleton in Swift County, exploring the various types of landscape, development, and land-use that water travels through before flowing into the Minnesota River.

The tour began up in Otter Tail County where rolling hills make up the major topography of the area spotted with popular lakes such as Ten Mile, Johnson, Eagle Lake, and many more. Members of the Otter Tail SWCD talked about the conservation work they’ve done with the aid of Clean Water Funds and Federal 319 Funds. Landowners, the Westby’s, also talked about work they’ve done on their own land to promote clean water and conservation.

As the bus wound around Christina Lake, an area in Douglas County with mainly protected lands, and into Grant County, the land noticeably began the flatten, less trees crowded the the view and we saw the intersection of tourism, agriculture, and development. All of which play an important roll in our communities as well as water quality and quantity.

Further down into the heart of this agricultural watershed Stevens SWCD staff talk about smart conservation and the various tactics used to help reduce crop field erosion and water runoff. We were reminded that the Pomme de Terre relies not only of the health of its headwaters, but of its tributaries as well as we cross into Swift County and over Drywood Creek where a failed dam that was a major source of sedimentation to the Pomme de Terre was recently removed.

Eventually, after following the path water takes, from fields of corn, lakes, dairies, cities, our own backyards, and more, we found ourselves at the very end of the Pomme de Terre River where it funnels into the Minnesota River…

Thank you to all of our planners, speakers, and participants for spending the day exploring our watershed and it’s valued water resources with us!

What’s next? We will be holding Public Information Meetings in October to gain public input on our plan. Stay tuned for more information coming soon….


Drywood Creek Dam Removal Pt. 1

PDTRA and Swift County SWCD are getting things done for the Pomme de Terre Watershed as a result of locally-lead planning, fund-acquiring, and project work,

A dam was constructed on Drywood Creek in 1972 and failed in 1997 leaving a function-less structure pushing the creek around the left and right abutments, resulting in serious bank failure and erosion issues. It’s perpetual source of sediment eroding into the stream is carried directly into the Pomme de Terre River and to its outlet at Marsh Lake, an area which is known for being continuously turbid from sedimentation.

For the last three years this project has been sought after by PDTRA as a way to eliminate a large source of sedimentation in the watershed and ultimately improve water quality and connectivity of the Artichoke lakes, Drywood, and the Pomme de Terre River. Over this time PDTRA has been able to secure the funds necessary to complete this project through BWSR Clean Water Funds and a grant from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). From there it was a waiting game for the perfect timing and weather conditions.

August 10th, 2017 was that day and the project finally broke ground.

The dam was almost completely taken out before noon.

There is still work to be done in completing the dam removal and it is only part one of the project. Along with the dam removal the project also details re-routing the creeks flow back to its historic channel. Doing this will increase access to the floodplain, re-establish a functional meander pattern, and enhance in and near-channel habitat for aquatic and riparian species.

PDTRA hopes to watch this area return to a more natural and healthy state and highlight the the changes in an ecosystem, from dam installation to removal, providing improved connectivity, sustaining habitat, and enhanced outdoor recreation.


2017 Pomme de Terre Kayak Trip

From Stalker Lake in Otter Tail County to Marsh Lake in Swift County the Pomme de Terre River winds and twists through thickets of trees and dense vegetation, rolling hills, alongside homes and cities, and through the wide open spaces of agricultural Minnesota.

2 Days, 30 paddlers, and 12 miles of river

Despite the heat of late July, we were lucky enough to find perfect weather and just enough rain to raise levels for two relaxing days of kayaking and floating down the Pomme de Terre River to learn a little bit more about its system and enjoy it for the opportunities it provides us as a community.


Thank you to all those who were able to join in! Know another good stretch of the Pomme de Terre to paddle? Share it with us!


Monitoring the Watershed

The Pomme de Terre River Association’s Seasonal Technician, Nicole, is well into the 2017 field season. Nicole hit the ground running this past May monitoring 30+ sites including lakes, stretches of the Pomme de Terre River, and tributaries to the PdT to investigate the health of our waters. These efforts are part of a two-year intensive monitoring cycle that that will help determine the overall health of our local waters. Data collected from this (and next) season will be incorporated into a Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) report. The WRAPS summarize the current conditions of the watershed and includes restoration and protection strategies for the Pomme de Terre for the next 10 years. The first WRAPS for the Pomme de Terre was completed in 2007.

Of course, the Association is not alone. Other entities such as the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other various non-governmental organizations are busy collecting information on Stream and Lake Chemistry, Biology, and Geomorphology that will be incorporated in the upcoming WRAPS report for the Pomme de Terre watershed.

Out in the field Nicole monitors and collects data using a field sonde to record temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductivity. In order to test for Turbidity (water clarity), Nicole uses a secchi disk, for lakes, or a secchi tube, for streams. Samples for Phosphorus, Nitrogen, E.Coli, and other chemical parameters of interest are collected and sent to an environmental laboratory to be analyzed.

A Secchi disk is lowered into the water until it can no longer be seen. The secchi depth is a measure of water transparency

A Secchi disk is lowered into the water until it can no longer be seen. The secchi depth is a measure of water transparency

A sonde uses individual probes to measure field parameters such as pH

A sonde uses individual probes to measure field parameters such as pH










Monitoring water quality is an important part of future management and prioritization to help protect our waterways from excessive degradation. Water quality is not only important to aquatic life, but also to recreation, economics, agriculture, and human health and safety. The more we know about our waters the better we will be able to recognize,improve, and protect them.

More information on how nutrients and turbidity affect water quality can be found here:

Nutrients: Phosphorus, Nitrogen Sources, Impact on Water Quality

Turbidity: Description, Impact on Water Quality


2017: On the Horizons

Spring is well underway here in Minnesota, putting us ahead of Winter enough to trade out our snow boots for our rain boot. The warmer weather bringing a breath of fresh air, many fish to be caught, trees to be planted, and summer time home improvement projects are underway.

Speaking of projects, what has the Pomme de Terre River Association (PDTRA) been up to anyway?

2017 has been anything but slow for the Association. Coming straight into the new year, Stephanie Adams joined PDTRA as the new Watershed Projects Coordinator.

“The last 5 months have already been highly rewarding for me” Stephanie comments “I work with a lot of different people all interested in the state of our waters and how we can plan for a better future. The amount of coordination, planning, and projects that are going on right now is really exciting”

Immediately since arriving Stephanie has been busy planning and administering four new funding sources that PDTRA was granted this year. Grants include a 2016 Federal 319 grant, 2017 Clean Water Funds, 2017 Pre-WRAPS (Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy) funding, and a Surface Water Assessment Grant (SWAG) for 2017.

With these funds PDTRA has a number of projects underway in partnership with the 6 Counties and SWCDs included in the Pomme de Terre Watershed ( portions of Otter Tail, Douglas, Grant, Stevens, Swift, and Big Stone) including, but not limited to; Aiding in cost-share for Best Management Practices (BMP) for landowners, providing education and outreach opportunities to the public, the removal of a failed dam on Drywood Creek that has been sought-after by PDTRA since 2014, and monitoring streams and lakes throughout the watershed as part of a 10-year Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (WRAPS) cycle that will steer future prioritization of conservative efforts.

PDTRA is also currently pre-planning for the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources’ (BWSR) One Watershed, One Plan planning process that will result in a comprehensive watershed-scale management plan for future use in prioritizing, targeting, and measuring conservation efforts across the Pomme de Terre watershed

Picture1To focus on the monitoring piece of PDTRA’s list of plans, Nicole Erickson from Walker, Minnesota was chosen to be PDTRA’s 2017 Seasonal Monitoring Technician.

“I am thankful to be a part of the Pomme de Terre River Association” Nicole comments “I have a lot of experience analyzing different components in water chemistry and believe that water equals life. It is important to monitor these different sites to determine water quality.”

During her time in the Pomme de Terre Watershed she will be monitoring 30+ sites including lakes, stretches of the Pomme de Terre River, and streams that are directly connected to the main stem to investigate the health of our waters.

The Pomme de Terre River Association is a strictly voluntary and grant-funded organization formed through a Joint Powers Board consisting of County Commissioners and SWCD Supervisors. PDTRA includes a Technical Advisory Committee made up of technicians and professionals from each of the listed counties within the watershed to provide technical assistance and planning.

For more information, check us out online at www.pdtriver.org or contact us at stephanie.adams@pdtriver.org

New Logo ba 2 (Facebook2)


Consultant Request for Proposals (One Watershed, One Plan)


Attention Consultants:

The Pomme de Terre Watershed Planning Area will be starting the One Watershed, One Plan Planning Process this year that will funnel the number of county water management plans and other collective planning documents into one comprehensive watershed plan to promote increased collaboration and project prioritization on a watershed scale. More information on the  One Watershed, One Plan planning process can be found on the BWSR website (Link here).

Interested consultants should review the attached materials (link below) and submit proposals and cost estimates by May 19th to stephanie.adams@pdtriver.org.

Request for Proposal



’17 Seasonal Field Technician – Position Filled


PDTRA is now looking to hire a seasonal field technician to collect water quality data in the Pomme de Terre Watershed for the 2017 field season!

The Water Quality Monitoring Technician for the Pomme de Terre River Association (PDTRA) is a seasonal field position (late March – late September). The technician will be responsible for collecting and reporting on a variety of water quality parameters throughout the Pomme de Terre Watershed to be used in the PDTRA’s Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy.

If interested, please read the full description bellow and email cover letter, resume, and 3 references to stephanie.adams@pdtriver.org

Full Position Description



Monitoring the Watershed

Monitoring the quality of water within our natural river system is very important in determining whether the water is suitable for fishing, swimming, and biological life. In 2014, the river association received a Federal 319 grant to collect water samples, during the 2016 and 2017 field seasons, on Pelican Creek (160th St.), Muddy Creek (490th St.), Drywood Creek (200th Ave. NW), and the Pomme de Terre River (N Munstrerman St.). The goal is to observe the preliminary effects that these tributaries have on the main stem of the Pomme de Terre River and aid in the listing and delisting of these streams on the EPA’s impaired waters list.

When sampling, we gather field data on dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, temperature, and transparency. We also collect and send water samples to a certified lab that assesses the water for E. coli, nitrogen, orthophosphate, total phosphorous, total suspended solids, and chloride.

In the near future, this information will help the Pomme de Terre River Watershed transition into the second round of the Watershed Approach, scheduled to start in 2017. During that time, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources will perform assessments on macro invertebrates and fishes at designated sites throughout the watershed.

To learn more about water quality monitoring in the Pomme de Terre River Watershed please contact the Pomme de Terre River Associations project coordinator.



Pomme de Terre River Association – 2015 In Review

What a year 2015 has been for the Pomme de Terre River Association (PDTRA). Through funding from the Clean Water, Federal 319, and County Funds the association, in terms of conservation, has had a tremendously successful year.

The beginning of the year started out with a bang as we received $387,146.00 from the states Clean Water Fund and $225,000.00 from the Federal 319 Fund. These two funding sources were married into the PDTRA’s WRAPS Implementation Plan Project. Whoa, what a mouth full! The project was designed to address water quality issues in the watershed that are outlined in our Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy Report (The report can be found at https://www.pdtriver.org/projects/).

When we hit the 2015 field season we hit it, not running, but sprinting! By the time the snow flew we had installed a total of 4 shoreline restorations, 16 rain gardens, and a whopping 58 water and sediment control basins (These practices are known as Best Management Practices). In addition to the installation of  Best Management Practices (BMPs), funding was also used to pay for soil and water conservation district (SWCD) employees hours. By providing these funds, we increased the amount of time SWCDs can put into contacting landowners for BMP installations as well as the enrollment of acres into federal programs. So, this year we have not only implemented BMPS, but secured projects for future field seasons and enrolled a total of 760.38 acres into the Conservation Reserve Program.  If that seems like a lot of conservation being put on the ground, that’s because it is!

The association, however, was not limited to just putting conservation on the ground. The project coordinator in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Extension and Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) held  watershed academies for teachers, lake associations, and residents. Talk about a great time! The curriculum for these academies included information on state agencies, watershed mechanics, how residents play a role in clean water and how the PDTRA is helping to protect and restore the watershed.

Speaking of protecting and restoring, the association applied for and was awarded a 2016 Clean Water Fund grant ($115,248.00) to help implement a new watershed tool, the PTMApp. The tool will aid the association in prioritizing and targeting areas within the watershed that  have the potential to pollute our natural resources. Our plan is to integrate the data generated from the tool into our next Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy.

This years success was a direct result from the hard work that the soil and water conservation districts and residents, in our watershed, put into conservation.

We are now reaching the end of this review, lucky you. I have decided to end this in rhyme to keep things from getting askew.