Collaborative efforts improve water quality in Mississippi River watershed

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A recent water quality project at Mississippi Shores in northeast Brainerd featured the restoration of green space to allow for better water drainage. Submitted photo

There are simple things that can be done to keep the waters in Crow Wing County healthy. Projects range from something as simple as filtering rain by planting native grasses and shrubs on the shoreline or making a rain garden to absorb rain, to projects that are more involved and utilize the skills and resources of different organizations or agencies.

As a part of the Mississippi River Brainerd Watershed, Crow Wing Soil and Water Conservation District provides programs that assist area residents as they seek ways to conserve and develop local soil, water, and related resources. The projects undertaken are as varied as the people who implement them.

A recent water quality project at Mississippi Shores, a northeast Brainerd neighborhood, is an example of the SWCD assisting with a local project. The neighborhood layout was designed with a circle drive amid four-plexes and single family homes. The area in the center of the circle was intended to be green space to capture runoff and drain the water, but it wasn’t working effectively.

“The runoff was designed improperly,” said Beth Hippert, project facilitator with Crow Wing SWCD, in a news release. “When the neighbors realized that the green space was anything but green, they contacted us for assistance.”

A contractor came onsite and cleaned it out and installed the right type of rock for proper drainage, but it remained an unsightly wet area.


“We talked to Beth Hippert at SWCD and told her we wanted to make it an attractive focal point in our neighborhood,” said Linda Schuster, resident of Mississippi Shores, in a news release. “Several people in our circle know about rain gardens and we thought this would be a good area to create one.”

Hippert assisted with plant selection and advice, what trees would work in the area, and more.

“The project provided a ripple effect in our little neighborhood,” said Schuster. “We not only beautified the area as we worked together to place matting, mulch, and plants, the entire experience brought us closer and helped us to become more close-knit as a small community.”

Hippert inspected the project last July.

“The project educated members about the problems of, and solutions for, stormwater runoff as well as native plant functions and benefits,” she said. “I was especially overwhelmed by the positive remarks and the impact it had on their community. I enjoyed hearing how it expanded and strengthened their social connections.”

Mississippi Shores is a good example that projects don’t need to be large-scale to make a big impact.

“These Crow Wing County resources show how collaboration can enhance and improve land and water quality. These are goals everyone can come together around to make things happen,” said Bonnie Finnerty, watershed project manager with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Baxter office, in a news release.

“The SWCDs are here to help landowners manage their land to improve soil and water. What we do on land impacts people downstream,” Melissa Barrick, district manager of Crow Wing SWCD. “We are all part of the solution and all can make an impact to improve area water bodies. Anything we can all do to improve the five-county Mississippi River Brainerd Watershed benefits our water quality.”


The final report on the health of the Mississippi River Brainerd Watershed will be available soon. For more information visit:

For more information about projects in Crow Wing County SWCD or to discuss getting assistance for a project, call 218-828-6197 or visit

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