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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

North Dakota: The Bowman/Hayley Watershed Project - Conservation Planning Succeeds in North Dakota


Originally developed in 1990, the Bowman/Hayley Watershed Project has become a model for improving the quality of North Dakota's waters. Project efforts funded in 1990 and again in 1994 focus on controlling the flow of nutrients and sediments from agricultural lands. To reduce the delivery of these pollutants to the reservoir and improve water quality, the project staff provide one-on-one technical assistance to local producers and help them develop conservation plans for their farms and ranches.

The basic purpose of conservation planning is to evaluate potential nonpoint source pollutants on the farm or ranch and remediate them by installing the most appropriate best management practice (BMP). Financial assistance is provided through various USDA programs (e.g., the Water Quality Incentives Program, Agricultural Conservation Program, etc.); the 319 funding also offsets costs associated with the installation of BMPs.

Over 50 percent of the watershed's acreage is under some type of conservation plan.

In conjunction with conservation planning, the Bowman/Hayley Watershed Project coordinates efforts with the Cooperative Extension Service to provide information and educational activities to project participants and other watershed residents. Increasing the public's awareness of the impacts of nonpoint source pollution on water quality is a primary goal of the project along with reducing the delivery rate of nutrients and sediments to the reservoir.

Project accomplishments

To date, the project has developed one livestock waste management plan and farm or ranch management plans that collectively cover 2,460 acres of cropland, 4,860 acres of rangeland, 1,543 acres of pasture land, 1,194 acres of hayland, and 246 acres of farmstead or wildlife habitat. Over 50 percent of the watershed's acreage is under some type of conservation plan.

Project staff have also organized and conducted several information and education events and assisted the North Dakota Department of Health in promoting nonpoint source pollution control in other areas of the state. Water quality data indicate that the median concentrations for phosphorus and total suspended solids have also declined over the past three years.

CONTACT: Jim Collins
Division of Water Quality North Dakota State Department of Health
(701) 328-5242

Protecting the Knife River:
Improved Land Management Around Goodman Creek

The Goodman Creek Watershed Project is a subwatershed of the Knife River watershed located in west-central Mercer County, North Dakota. The project area encompasses approximately 59,000 acres, of which 52 percent is cropland and 45 percent is either rangeland or pasture. Low residue farming practices (plowing) and overgrazing have resulted in increased wind and water erosion on much of this land. Agricultural pollutants attached to the wind and waterborne sediments are deposited in Goodman Creek at an accelerated rate.

Taking action

The goals and objectives of the Goodman Creek project are twofold. First and foremost, it will improve the water quality of Goodman Creek by promoting improved land management practices and installing various best management practices that are known to reduce erosion effectively on agricultural lands within the watershed.

A second objective is to document and disseminate information on the positive effects that the application of various best management practices (BMPs) has on water quality especially in small watersheds.

Water quality and land treatment data compiled during this project are being used to determine the correlation between land treatment and water quality improvements. This data will help the state and individual farmers to evaluate the overall effects of the project activities on the watershed.

Monitoring results

The following structural practices were installed during this project:

  • feedlot windbreaks,
  • fencing,
  • grassed waterways,
  • pasture/highland planting,
  • pipelines,
  • ponds,
  • spring developments,
  • tanks, and
  • wells.

Four monitoring sites have been established at which both water samples and macroinvertebrate inventories will be collected to help measure the project's effectiveness. Approximately 248 water quality samples have been collected since the project began in 1993.

Trends from these samples indicate an improvement of several variables, that is, declining concentrations of fecal coliform, total phosphorus, and total suspended solids. Figures 1 through 3 document the results to date, but as this project is relatively new, these numbers (and the trends they establish) can be expected to change by the project's end.

Figure 1.--Monitoring results of fecal coliform bacteria in the watershed.
Figure 2.--Monitoring results of ammonia, total phosphate, and nitrate-nitrite in the watershed.
Figure 3.--Monitoring results of total suspended solids in the watershed.
Click on pictures for larger images.


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