Starting in 2008 with funding from the Legacy Amendment, the MPCA started a holistic approach to measure the health of the state's 80 major watersheds. This watershed approach greatly accelerated the state's assessment of lakes and streams while saving money, compared to the previous approach of studying one lake and one stream section at a time. It also puts focus on protecting healthy waters, a critical component missing form previous approach of focusing only on impaired waters.
This watershed approach consists of four main steps on a 10-year cycle:
- Intensive water monitoring and assessment to see if major rivers and lakes meet water quality standards.
- Identifying conditions that stress fish and bugs as well as healthy conditions that foster them.
- Developing Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS).
- Implement changes to restore and protect waters through local water plans.
Local partners, such as watershed partnerships and conservation districts, play a major role with the MPCA in the first three steps. They take the lead in the last step - implementation. Local partners and the MPCA seek input citizens, landowners and others throughout the process. Together, the develop strategies based on local data and sound science that can lead to focused action to protect and restore Minnesota waters into the future.
Along with the watershed approach, the MPCA developed a process to identify and address threats to water quality in each of the major watersheds. This process is called WRAPS or the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy.
WRAPS has four major steps or phases:
Step 1. Monitor water bodies and collect data.
Step 2. Assess the data.
Step 3. Develop strategies to restore and protect the watershed's water bodies.
Step 4. Conduct restoration and protection projects in the watershed.
RCRCA is proudly partnering with MPCA and the RCRCA members to develop WRAPS for the Cottonwood and Redwood watersheds. Step 1 began in 2017.
For more information about the WRAPS process, check out the following link: https:/www.pca.state.mn.us/water/watershed-approach-restoring-and-protecting-water-quality.