Summary of the Nine Key Element Plan conditionally approved on 6/8/2020
The Nine Key Element Plan for our 14 Mile Creek Watershed has been conditionally approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and the DNR. It’s a 10-year project with an estimated cost of $8 million. The request for a plan was first made to our Adams County Conservationist by our 14 Mile Creek Watershed Joint Committee in 2017, shortly after our committee was formed in response to blue-green algae outbreaks on our lakes. Through a number of staff changes, the plan was rewritten and completed by our current Adams County Conservationist Kason Morley. Our Rome lakes are at the tail end of the 38-mile, four county watershed which begins east of Plainfield and empties into Lake Petenwell west of County Highway Z. There are at least 50 stakeholders throughout the watershed, including municipalities, agriculture and forest industries, cattle raising operations, and our Rome community with approximately 2,000 properties surrounding lakes Arrowhead, Camelot and Sherwood, and bordering Lake Petenwell. All have an impact on our water quality.
So, what is a Nine Key Element Plan? In a nutshell, it’s a structured plan that brings all involved parties into the process of improving the quality of surface water and groundwater feeding our watershed. It provides a plan with milestone activities, assessment and monitoring steps, access to expertise, and most importantly, access to funding through grants. We expect much of the nutrient reduction to result from grants made available to our upstream agriculture neighbors. DNR summary of the nine minimum elements A. Identify the causes and sources B. Estimate pollutant loading into the watershed and the expected load reductions C. Describe management measures that will achieve load reductions and targeted critical areas D. Estimate the amounts of technical and financial assistance and the relevant authorities needed to implement the plan E. Develop an information/education component F. Develop a project schedule G. Develop the interim, measurable milestones H. Identify indicators to measure progress and make adjustments I. Develop a monitoring component
What will it mean for those of us living around these lakes? For starters, it provides an execution level not available to us as just a group of citizens around the lakes, and it provides access to grant funding under EPA Section 319 so we don’t foot the bill for the project. It elevates implementation of the plan to the county level with an implementation team expected to include all four county conservationists and key stakeholders and industry representatives from throughout the 38-mile watershed. That’s very important to us because we can’t do it alone. As a co-contributor to the water quality problems, we’ll need to make changes just as we ask our upstream neighbors to make changes to reduce the flow of excess nutrients into our ground and surface water. Milestone activities for education, analysis and correction have been identified for us and our upstream neighbors. Some of you have already begun the process by reducing fertilizer use, installing healthy lakes shorelines, fish sticks and rain garden projects, and reducing soil erosion into our lakes. It’s a long process and will take all of us up and down the watershed to make it successful and return these lakes to a level of quality we all want for ourselves and our families. Stay tuned. This is a learning process for all of us. You can find more information through this link to the DNR website. https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/nonpoint/9keyelement/