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S.D. to monitor Minnesota River tributaries

MONTEVIDEO -- An extensive, two-year monitoring program will be launched this year to analyze water quality in two South Dakota tributaries to the upper portion of the Minnesota River.

The project will include extensive water quality monitoring at 14 sites in the Whetstone River and Yellow Bank River watersheds, according to Jay Gilbertson, manager of the East Dakota Water Development District in Brookings, S.D. He outlined the project to members of the Minnesota River Board at their meeting Monday in Montevideo.

Gilbertson said that only limited monitoring has been conducted in the two watersheds in previous years. The timing of some water quality tests has not provided the information needed for a thorough understanding of the watersheds, he said.

The state of South Dakota has now committed to a comprehensive testing program that should provide the kind of information needed to determine what types of issues may need addressing.

The majority of both watersheds lie in South Dakota, but monitoring on the Minnesota side of the border has indicated some issues, such as sediment loads in the Whetstone River.

Members of the Minnesota River Board welcomed the news. Lac qui Parle County Commissioner Harold Solem, a member of the Minnesota River Board of directors, said the two South Dakota watersheds are important components of the upper watershed. Both of the tributaries lie largely in the Buffalo Ridge area of South Dakota, or at an elevation well above the Minnesota River. "So it comes quite fast," he said of the water.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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