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Conservation Drainage

Activity/Project Description:

On June 30, 2010, the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District entered into a Conservation Drainage grant agreement with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). Funding for the grant comes from the 3/8 percent sales tax increase amendment that was passed in 2008.

The grant is to carry out a pilot project focusing on drainage water management through the installation of controlled drainage systems. Such systems can significantly reduce water volumes, total phosphorus, and nitrate exports via tile lines to receiving water bodies while improving crop yield. This pilot project will compare the discharge (flow) and water quality in two tile lines draining a field near Atwater, MN. The long term goal of this project is to increase the acceptance of such practices in the region.

Financial information:

Construction (water control structure installation): $14,656
Monitoring (technical): $4,460
Education & outreach: $1,040
Administration: $972

Total grant: $21,128
Grant funds: $15,602
Local match: $5,526


The primary output of this pilot project will be the installation of water flow equipment in two tile lines and the installation of a water control structure in one of the lines. A data set of flow and water quality information will be produced for comparison purposes. If the pilot project results warrant, the District will host a presentation for area land owners and producers to share the findings about this conservation practice.


Based on the conservation drainage research conducted by University of Minnesota, pollutant reductions are estimated to be nearly 40 pounds of nitrogen and 2 pounds of phosphorus.