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Register for the Woodlands for Wildlife Workshop

Click HERE to register for the Woodlands for Wildlife Workshop on May 5th.

Groundwater is an important resource for landowners near Otter Tail Lake. Many of the residents living there rely on the groundwater for drinking water. Much of the time this water is invisible, hiding beneath layers of soil and rock, but the quality of this water can vary greatly depending on what happens on the surface. In order to prevent contamination of this water source the Otter Tail Water Management District (OTWMD), in partnership with the East Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation District (EOTSWCD), has sealed almost 100 unused wells near Otter Tail Lake. OTWMD manages the septic systems for private residents in the area.  In order to monitor these septic systems, monitoring wells were installed many years ago.  These wells are no longer being used and represent a threat to the groundwater.  Unsealed and unused wells, like these monitoring wells, can be a direct conduit for contaminants into the aquifer.  To learn more about well sealing and why it is so important watch the video above!


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This project will maintain ecoregion leading water quality in Lakes Six and Seven by reducing pollutant loading to the affected lakes. Lake Seven is a waterbody of statewide significance often leading the north central hardwoods forest ecoregion in water clarity. Through a lake management planning process, Lake Six and Seven residents identified 15 locations to reduce the volume of stormwater runoff entering the lakes from shoreland properties.


The East Otter Tail SWCD has secured funds through the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment to be granted out to local community partner organizations within Otter Tail County to implement structural and vegetative practices to reduce stormwater runoff and retain water on the land to reduce the movement of sediment, nutrients and pollutants.  The EOT SWCD will be making sub-grants to local community partner organizations who are implementing practices to accomplish the restoration, protection or enhancement of water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and/or protection of groundwater and drinking water.

This grant program will target proven stormwater reduction practices including bioretention (raingardens), shoreline buffers, and infiltration practices. These practices are emphasised in the Local County Water Plan to protect Otter Tail County's water resources from development pressure. The cost shared installation of these practices is supported by the Otter Tail County Water Plan objectives of "offering education and incentive programs aimed at mitigating the effects of overland runoff" and supporting "lake associations and the Otter Tail County COLA to protect and preserve the lakes and lakeshed enviroment". Specific actions in the Otter Tail County Water Plan include providing "incentive funding for high priority buffer strips".

Local Organizations interested in applying for funds should contact the EOT SWCD for more information.


The East Otter Tail SWCD is assisting communities in developing lake specific water quality protection strategies for 21 Otter Tail County lakes. These lakes include: Eagle, East Silent, Little McDonald, Swan, West Battle, Long, Lake Seven, Round, Dead, Stalker, Wall, Clitherall, Little Pine, East & Middle Leaf, West Leaf, Big Pine, Pelican, Little Pelican, Fish, Walker, and Rush.  Summary reports have been generated for each lake, these reports will be the basis for each community to select priority objectives. Water Quality experts have screened all the existing data for these 21 lakes to determine if water quality is improving, steady, or declining. Land use, population, and fisheries data are also incorporated into the report for communities to review as they set priorities. These community identified protection plans will then be incorporated into the County Water Plan.


Employing and refining new methods to engage private landowners in forest management to increase return on investment, stimulate business activity, and improve wildlife habitat focused around areas of existing high quality habitat and public lands. A partnership between USFS, MN DNR, MN Forest Resources Council, Wadena SWCD, and EOT SWCD partially funds the Farmbill Technician position.


Provides technical and financial assistance to homeowners planting diverse native prairies to protect and improve water quality and wildlife habitat. Over $65,000 has been paid to Otter Tail County landowners for 34 projects since 2008 with another 17 projects representing $44,000 contracted for completion by December 2011.



Assisting landowners with planning, funding, and installing conservation including CRP, RIM, wildlife habitat, water quality, forestry, and other practices. A partnership between Pheasants Forever, MN DNR, BWSR, and SWCDs partially funds the Farm Bill Technician position. 'Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).'


The EOT SWCD offers cost-share to landowners for various projects that improve water and soil quality.  Projects that may be eligible for cost-share include: abandoned well sealing, field windbreaks, low pressure irrigation conversions, shoreland buffers, lakescaping projects, rain gardens, and prairie restorations.


The EOT SWCD is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on several projects to address the high Nitrate levels in Central Minnesota's groundwater sources.  Irrigation and Nutrient Management BMP's are the main focus of the project.


On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment to the constitution to:

  • protect drinking water sources;
  • protect, enhance, and restore wetlands, prairies, forests, and fish, game, and wildlife habitat;
  • preserve arts and cultural heritage;
  • support parks and trails;
  • and protect, enhance, and restore lakes, rivers, streams, and groundwater.

The Amendment increases the sales and use tax rate by three-eighths of one percent on taxable sales, starting July 1, 2009, continuing through 2034. Those dollars are dedicated to four funds: Outdoor Heritage Fund, Clean Water Fund, Parks and Trails Fund, and Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

To see more projects from this funding go to http://www.bwsr.state.mn.us/cleanwaterfund/stories/