Groundwater Shines at Conservation Tour for Local Leaders
On October 11, elected officials and conservation employees gathered for the annual Scott SWCD and Scott Watershed Management Organization (SWMO) Fall Conservation Tour. The tour is held each year to highlight the annual progress being made to conserve natural resources and to discuss escalating topics in conservation.
This year the tour focused on groundwater sustainability, with an emphasis on groundwater quality and quantity. The SWCD and SWMO work extensively with Scott County landowners to help promote soil health and to implement conservation practices that benefit water quality. Well decommissions, water quality inspections, and erosion control enforcements are just a handful of the services that the Scott SWCD and WMO are involved in that help protect groundwater resources.
The tour's first stop was a local hidden gem: one of the three New Prague Wells and Filtration plants. Commissioned in 2006, the two groundwater production wells at the facility provide potable water to over 2,952 customers. Water operators Travis Scheffler and Frank Bisek led tour attendees through the facility, explaining the plant’s ability to tap into six groundwater wells that draw from aquifers from Tunnel City to Eau Claire. The facility, like many others of its kind, showcases the interconnectedness of our groundwater systems and our ability to adapt to ever-changing water sources.
The tour’s second stop featured three groundwater observation wells in Cedar Lake—monitored by Scott SWCD Water Resource Specialist, Jon Utecht. These observation wells are located throughout the state of Minnesota and collect a network of groundwater-level data that assesses long-term trends in groundwater storage. The data is collected monthly and used at the state level to plan for future groundwater conservation efforts. Data from observation wells helps city planners predict the impacts of droughts and floods, and they help us maintain necessary water levels in periods of low surface water.
The tour concluded with outdoor dinner presentations from Jesse Krzenski from Scott County Environmental Services, and Shelby Roberts, Scott SWCD Education and Outreach Specialist. Krzenski spoke on common groundwater contaminants and their treatment measures. Roberts gave an overview of the Scott SWCD well decommissioning program and the cost-share services in place that help protect groundwater.
Additionally, the 2021 Conservation Leaders of Scott County were celebrated. Jerry and Susan Mealman received appreciation and recognition for their outstanding work with shoreline protection, pollinator habitat establishment, and community involvement.
The tour once again served as a valued tradition of showcasing the fantastic conservation projects happening in Scott County.