The Board of Managers, Buffalo-Red River Watershed District (BRRWD), is working with the Wilkin County Environmental Office regarding a grant they secured from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources to look at a potential project involving Whiskey Creek near Kent, MN.
Whiskey Creek is a tributary to the Red River of the North located in Wilkin County, MN. The creek is one of many natural waterways within the BRRWD political boundary. The Whiskey Creek subwatershed is approximately 157 square miles in area and extends from northeast of Rothsay in Otter Tail County flowing through the Red River Prairie eco-region in Wilkin County, outletting near Kent, Minnesota. Drainage within the subwatershed generally runs from east to west and south to north, though portions in the upper subwatershed drain north to south.
The Whiskey Creek subwatershed was only recently added within the BRRWD political boundary when the District expanded in 2012. However, discussions about a potential project involving Whiskey Creek have been occurring between landowners and Wilkin County for at least 20 years. Wilkin County, in partnership with the BRRWD, secured a 2016 Clean Water Fund (CWF) Accelerated Implementation Grant (AIG) from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (BWSR) to begin studying the creek and investigating what could be done. The scope of work for the AIG included civic engagement, topographic survey data collection, hydraulic modeling, project development, preliminary engineering design, and reporting.
With the AIG grant funding, the BRRWD collected the existing channel geometry for Whiskey Creek and its public waters tributaries starting in the summer of 2016 and completed in the winter of 2017. Channel geometry collected included cross-sections, channel centerline profile, sediment test pits, and culvert and bridges along Whiskey Creek, the Wilkin County Ditch 1A/1B Tributary, and the Wilkin County Ditch 6A Tributary. The collected channel survey information was used to supplement Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) topography data. LiDAR does not penetrate through water to pick up the bottom of the channel, so ground survey was required to fill in the gap in the LiDAR data that existed in those areas that had water on them at the time of the LiDAR survey. In addition to conventional GPS rover survey collection, stream bathymetry data was collected in regions where water depths exceeded wadable conditions. The combination of the LiDAR, ground survey, and stream bathymetric survey information was used in the planning and development of the restoration design.
The Project Goals & Objectives for the Whiskey Creek Restoration Project are as follows:
· Improve water quality by reducing sediment and nutrient loadings to the creek
· Improve natural waterway drainage
· Improve wildlife habitat along the stream corridor
· Reduce sediment loading downstream
· Reduce the occurrence and magnitude of flood damages to agricultural fields and adjacent residential properties
Fundamentally, the goal of the Whiskey Creek Enhancement Project is to provide and foster stable stream conditions. A stable stream is defined by the MN DNR as a stream that is able to convey both its water and sediment load while maintaining its general geometric characteristics, including pattern, profile, and dimension. A stable stream neither aggrades nor degrades over time, but instead balances between the processes of erosion and deposition in a way that does not widen or narrow the channel.
The CWF AIG Final Study Report, prepared by Houston Engineering, Inc., dated February 7, 2018, (available below) was presented to the public at the 12/13/18 landowners’ informational meeting.