Minnesota watershed uses woodchips, wetlands to treat water

Watershed experts are using wetlands and woodchips to try and reduce nitrate runoff in Vermillion River and other Minnesota waters.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that runoff from local farms has polluted the waters. Nitrates can give adults headaches and cramps, and cause life-threatening blue baby syndrome in infants.

Vermillion River Watershed experts have created a 3-acre artificial wetland with more than 1,000 cubic yards of woodchips mixed into the topsoil in an effort to filter out those nitrates.

A recent University of Minnesota study found that wetlands are effective natural filters for water. Vermillion’s senior watershed specialist, Travis Thiel, says bacteria that grow on woodchips are also useful nitrate filters.

Thiel says the project is estimated to cost between $200,000 and $300,000. The watershed organization estimates the project will treat 13,600 pounds of nitrate annually.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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