One Watershed, One Plan

Minnesota has always been concerned about the quality of its’ water. Minnesota’s Soil Conservation law was first enacted in 1937 so we’ve had eight decades to work on water plans. The latest incarnation of plans to improve water quality culminated in the 2012 creation of One Watershed, One Plan.

If you don’t read any further, please see this-One Watershed, One Plan has nothing to do with Governor Dayton’s buffer law. Some of the plans created through this process may use buffers to improve water quality however participation is voluntary and there are NO penalties if you don’t participate. One Watershed, One Plan uses data that has been around for years and techniques that have been around for years only in a more coordinated, organized way.

Plans for water use have always been developed by counties and watershed districts. A lot of good work was done by counties, soil and water conservation districts and watershed districts but these individual plans didn’t always compliment each other. If one county was downstream from a pollutant source, they could create a project to handle the problem however it would have been more efficient to use the money to help eliminate the upstream pollutant. If the main source of a pollutant existed within the boundaries of another watershed, it was up to that watershed to find the money and make the effort to fix the problem. A big part of One Watershed, One Plan is to utilize funding to implement priority projects identified in the plan. One Watershed One Plan looks at the watershed as a whole so any problems can be repaired by districts acting as a team instead of competitors.

People expect to see measurable results from their tax money-that’s only reasonable. A big part of One Watershed, One Plan is establishing a set of priorities set by a variety of people who attend the public meetings or fill out a questionnaire and then using an computer application to measure success. The priorities are many and varied but include nutrient and sediment reduction.

Cooperatives began as a way for a group of people to join forces in able to sell there products or receive services when they could not do either of these things on there own. One Watershed, One Plan is like these cooperatives in that several local government groups have joined together to create a water plan that is coordinated among all participants and approved by each local group. In this way, they bring one plan to avail themselves to clean water funds in a way that is more attractive to the State of Minnesota. It’s a systems that is easier to prove results, prevents duplication and floats the cream of the projects to the top.

I often think about what going without means. If I had to go without food for three days, it would be very tough. If I had to go without gas for my pick-up for three days, I would get worried but would be okay. I think though, what would happen if I had to go without water for three days? This is a thought that I don’t want to hold for long as it ends poorly. Happily, our drinking water sources are very good. Drop a pebble into a glassy pool of water and watch how this one small act ripples out to effect much of the pool of water. The actions we take now towards water quality will send ripples for generations to come. One Watershed, One Plan is an action that will make good ripples.