Agricultural Water and Sediment Control Basin’s Improve Water Quality

In the Forest Junction area of northern Calumet County lying within the Plum Creek watershed a landowner was having an issue with a reoccurring gully running through his property. A gully is an erosion issue created by running water, eroding sharply into soil. Gullies can resemble large ditches or small valleys. When a gully is formed the water flow rate can be substantial, causing a significant deep cutting action. In this particular case 5 acres of cropland was flowing onto his property causing a 450 linear foot gully.

Both the landowner and land operator were aware of the issue occurring in this location and decided to reach out for help from Calumet and Outagamie County Land and Water Conservation Departments to come up with solutions in this field as well as in other owned fields throughout the Plum Creek watershed. With months of surveying, planning and design, as well as ongoing communication with both the landowners and operator, a solution was agreed upon which involved the construction of a Water and Sediment Control Basin (WASCOB).

A WASCOB is a small earthen embankment built across a small watercourse or area of concentrated flow within a field such as gully erosion in this case. They are designed to slow the water while trapping agricultural runoff and sediment as it flows down the watercourse or flow path; this keeps the watercourse from eroding and reduces the amount of runoff and sediment from leaving the field. With sediment being trapped within the field it helps improve water quality by preventing it from reaching downstream water bodies such as Plum Creek. In addition, this helps keep nutrient rich topsoil where it most benefits the farmer and the crops that he plants.

The photo on the left shows a completed WASCOB before the permanent vegetation has taken root. When looking at this photo you will notice how this practice blends in with the natural landscape  but most importantly the practice did not require a change in how the farmer crops this property.

This is just one of the many examples of farmers and landowners installing conservation practices in the area to help reduce sediment and nutrients from entering our waterbodies and making strides in improving the water quality in the Fox River as well as the bay of Green Bay.

Article Submitted by:
Jonathan Lisowe
Conservation Project Technician
Calumet County Land & Water Department

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