Water Quality & Quantity

2015 Irrigation Clinic - Presentations and Handouts

Irrigation Management

The Benton Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) received an Accelerated Implementation Grant in 2014 for the continuation on the Little Rock Creek Irrigation Management. This grant is a combination of efforts from Benton and Morrison SWCDs to address irrigation water management in the Little Rock Creek Groundwater recharge area. The Little Rock Creek Total Maximum Daily Load  (TMDL) Study has revealed that a majority of the impairments are linked to altered flow (hydrology). Specifically changes in groundwater flow during the summer months are changing groundwater inputs to Little Rock Creek, which is having a negative effect on the fish communities.


irrigation catch cans

Catch Can Test.


This grant provides technical assistance for landowners who want to implement irrigation “catch can” tests on their fields to check the uniformity and efficiency of their irrigation systems.


  • Each "catch can" test performed on an irrigation system is offered free of charge through the 2014 Accelerated Implementation Grant.
  • Irrigation systems must be located within the Little Rock Creek groundwater recharge area to be eligible to receive the catch can test
  • Producers who wish to convert their irrigation system from high pressure to low pressure or are interested in irrigation water management may be eligible for financial assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


2015 Irrigation Scheduling 2

In 2011, Benton SWCD, in the interest of sound irrigation management and water management, constructed an “irrigation Scheduler Program.” This program is designed to provide the farmer with a second opinion on in-fields soil moisture status to assist the farmer In determining if and when to irrigate. Accurate water application can prevent crop loss due to insufficient moisture, prevent groundwater contamination due to over application of water used during some parts of the growing season. This program is free of charge to landowners in the Little Rock Creek Recharge area and Benton County.



Please contact the Benton SWCD or Morrison SWCD if you are interested in learning more about the incentive program for “catch can” tests, irrigation water management, or low pressure pivot conversions.


Additional resources:


Riparian Buffers

riparianbufferRiparian vegetation is a mix of grasses, forbs, sedges, and other vegetation that serves as an intermediate zone between upland and aquatic environments. This vegetation is often used to stabilize streambanks. Riparian buffers can improve water quality by acting as a filter strip that induces sedimentation and anchors soil through its root system. Buffers can also be play an important role in providing habitat, helping to regulate water body temperature through shade and can help to dissipate stream energy.


If receiving runoff from upland sources, riparian vegetation has similar water quality benefits to vegetative filters. Riparian buffers can improve water quality by promoting sedimentation of sediment and associated pollutants, as well as nitrates.


Additional resources:


Well Sealings

Well sealing is permanently closing a well that is no longer used or is deemed unsafe. State law requires abandoned wells in Minnesota to be sealed. Well sealing involves clearing debris from the well and filling it with grout. This must be done by a licensed contractor.


An unused well can act as a drain, allowing surface runoff, polluted water and improperly disposed-of solid or other waste to contaminate groundwater. Therefore, sealing abandoned wells protects groundwater quality.


Old unused wells can be hard to find. They may be buried under soil or covered by buildings. Sometimes the only evidence is a depression or an old well casing close to a house or outbuilding. Hand-dug wells can be safety hazards for children, adults, and animals to fall into as well. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health's website for tips on finding abandoned well sites on rural land.


wellsealing before

Before well sealing
wellsealing during
During well sealing



State Cost-Share offers 50% cost-share rates to seal unused wells in Benton County, up to $1,000. Please contact our office if you would like more information.


Additional information:


 Septic Programs 

 The Benton Soil & Water Conservation District has various cost-share programs available for septic tanklandowners to repair/replace failing septic systems.  The purpose of these programs are to promote public health and welfare by preventing, reducing, and eliminating water pollution.

 For a brochure on all the available programs for failing septic systems, click here.


 Clean Water Fund Cost-Share Grants

  •  SWCD Local Capacity Services Clean Water Fund Grant
  •  Little Rock Lake Watershed Clean Water Fund Grant

 These funds are available to landowners who have their septic systems inspected by a licensed private inspector and the system has been deemed to be an Imminent Threat to Public Health and Safety, and a Notice of Noncompliance has been issued.

 Landowners could be eligible to be reimbursed up to 50% of the installation costs to repair/replace a failing septic system, which are paid after completion.  Landowners are responsible for any inspection and design fees, along with any permit costs.

At a minimum, a system that is an Imminent Threat to Public Health and Safety is a system with a discharge of sewage or sewage effluent to the ground surface, drainage systems, ditches, storm water drains, or direct to surface water; systems that cause a reoccurring sewage backup into a dwelling or other establishment; systems with electrical hazards; or sewage tanks with unsecured, damaged, or weak maintenance hole covers.

 For more information on the programs above, click here.


 Benton County Low-Income SSTS Upgrade Clean Water Fund Grant

Benton SWCD is administering this Clean Water Fund grant on behalf of Benton County.  This program is available for Benton County residences who have a homesteaded, single-family home who meet the income criteria and other program eligibility requirements.

Provides cost-share for failing septic systems that have been inspected by a licensed private inspector and the system has been deemed to be 1) Imminent Threat to Public Health and Safety OR Failing to Protect Groundwater, and 2) Notice of Noncompliance has been issued.

Combined household gross annual income must qualify under the USDA Rural Development Low Income Guidelines (INCOME TABLE is on application).  There are two cost-share rates available and are depended on combined household gross annual income.  Cost-share rates are 1) up to 75% not to exceed $10,000 OR 2) up to 50% not to exceed $6,500.  Cost-share rates depend on which income table the household is eligible for.  See Application for all the program criteria and eligibility requirements. 

For more information & program application, click here.