Best Management Practices

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are activities and structural systems that treat or remove pollutants before they reach waterways, as well as conserve water resources. You can do many of them yourself or with the guidance of our experts.

When it rains or snows, the water that doesn’t infiltrate the soil becomes stormwater runoff, flowing over roads, parking lots, and rooftops into lakes and rivers. It frequently carries pollutants with it, such as pet waste, excess fertilizer, and road salt. These are a big threat to lakes and rivers and can cause algae blooms, flooding, or other nuisance conditions. (Learn more about stormwater issues in the Minnesota Stormwater Manual.) Native gardens, rain gardens, and stabilized shorelines are best management practices that can help water soak in and filter stormwater runoff.

Dakota County Soil & Water Conservation District holds a workshop called Landscaping for Clean Water to educate homeowners on planning, purchasing and planting a native garden, rain garden, or stabilizing shorelines. Find out more and sign up for their 2024 workshops here.

  • Collect runoff from your roof with a rain barrel and reuse the water on your land. This simple solution conserves water, nurtures the plants on your land, and prevents pollutants from getting into storm drains. Not to mention, it can save you money on your water bills. Dakota County residents can get a discount on buying rain barrels.
  • Natural bacteria, insects, air, and heat transform yard and food wastes into compost. Reduce your waste disposal costs – keep nutrients working for you in your landscape and out of nearby water resources by putting them in compost bins.
  • Rain barrels and compost bins are sold at most home improvement stores, and other thrifty options are available. The Recycling Association of Minnesota offers an annual sale on both products. Or you can make your own!

Storms with heavy rainfall and high winds often leave a trail of downed trees that obstruct waterways. Other materials such as sediment, debris, and garbage can build up and obstruct flow. VRWJPO and its Technical Advisory Group (which includes staff from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) prepared a fact sheet, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Stream Obstructions, to provide landowners with best management practices for keeping obstructions from adversely affecting stream flow, property, and wildlife.

For farmers, the best source for information and technical assistance is right around the corner. Dakota County and Scott County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) have experienced and knowledgeable staff members who consult with landowners about the best solution to pollution and water management problems. These experts can provide advice, design assistance, plan review, inspection, referrals, or financial incentives (grant funding, partner cost-share, or payment for conservation easements). Dakota SWCD also works with the USDA to host an Irrigation Management Assistant tool.

Here are some examples of BMPs:

  • Contour Farming
  • Structural Runoff Control
  • Wetland Management
  • Rotational Grazing
  • Feedlot Management
  • Nutrient Management
  • Riparian Buffers
  • Grass Waterways
  • Conservation Tillage
  • Cover Crops
  • Integrated Pest Management
  • Streambank Stabilization
  • Street Landscaping and Trees
  • Stream Habitat Restoration
  • Streambank Fencing
  • Home Runoff Management
  • Green Roofs
  • Constructed Wetlands

If you have a private well on your property or are considering one, you have a significant role to play in protecting our groundwater. The Minnesota Department of Health has compiled a handbook with answers to common questions about wells – download and read it here.

Both Dakota and Scott counties can help you test your well water for contaminants of concern.

The Vermillion River Watershed consists of 335 square miles of land, including urban, rural, and residential landscapes. To better assess and plan for such a large area, the watershed is divided into eight subwatersheds. Each subwatershed has unique characteristics and problems.

VRWJPO prepared fact sheets summarizing each subwatershed’s features and suggest best management practices that may be successful in improving water quality: