Herald and Journal, Feb. 7, 2000

Public forums on Crow River monitoring set for early spring

The Crow River Organization of Water or C.R.O.W. is a joint powers organization aimed at improving water quality and quantity issues in the Crow River watershed while also promoting a healthy agricultural, industrial and recreation based economy for the region.

In early 1998, a group of citizens met with local, state and federal governments to discuss their growing concern over the state of the Crow River. This meeting was primarily focused on the lower branch of the Crow River. However, it was soon recognized that the entire watershed needed to be looked at in order for accurate information to be obtained.

Additional meetings were held to include citizens and governments from the north and south forks of the river. It was the involvement of this group of people that eventually led to the formation of the C.R.O.W.

In 1999, a joint powers agreement was signed by nine of the 10 counties in the watershed to form the C.R.O.W. The C.R.O.W. Joint Powers Board is made up of one representative from each of the county boards who signed the agreement.

In early 1999, the C.R.O.W. applied for, and received a challenge grant from the Board of Soil and Water Resources to fund a watershed coordinator position. The project also received a significant 319 grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for a Crow River Watershed Water Quality Enhancement project.

This grant will help to fund erosion control practices and priority agricultural waste systems in the watershed. In October 1999, the joint powers board hired a watershed coordinator. Jennifer Lee started with the C.R.O.W. in November. Her office is located in Litchfield, at the NRCS office.

In November 2000, we plan to submit an application to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for a Clean Water Partnership Phase I grant. As part of this application, we will be developing a monitoring plan for the Crow River.

We will be holding several open houses across the watershed in early spring. The open houses will provide a forum for citizens to provide input on the proposed monitoring plan, and to discuss potential pollution problems in the watershed. We will also use the open houses to publicize the C.R.O.W. project in general, and to invite citizens to sign up as volunteers for a Crow River Citizen Monitoring Network.

All meetings are free and open to the public.

The meeting for the greater Wright County area will be Tuesday, Feb. 29, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Howard Lake Community Room, located at 615 Sixth Ave., above the public library.

A second meeting is planned for eastern Wright County in the early spring.

Throughout the year, the C.R.O.W. will be working with the counties involved in the approved 319 grant to implement land use projects. We have also submitted proposals to the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources to obtain funding for Best Management Practices, Agricultural Waste Systems, and Septic System Upgrades in the Crow River Watershed.

Any questions, call Lee at 320-693-7287, extension 3.

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