Area 3: Water Quality Basics

Description for Water Quality Basics:

Water Quality basics is understanding the water quality issues from a broad overview nationally and locally, water contaminants, surface and groundwater flow, point and non-point, and the work being done in the state, including the Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

Competencies for Water Quality Basics

  • Competency 3.1: Describe the national, state/global context.
  • Competency 3.2: Recognize sediments, nutrients, and bacteria in aquatic environments.
  • Competency 3.3: Maintain an understanding of surface/groundwater flow.
  • Competency 3.4: Differentiate point and nonpoint and explain how each is regulated.
  • Competency 3.5: Describe how to control non-point pollution in urban, agricultural, and forested environments using best management practices (BMPs).
  • Competency 3.6: Maintain an understanding of the Minnesota nutrient reduction strategy.
  • Competency 3.7: Maintain an awareness of water quality and climate change impact.

Course title, description and learning objectives - ***subject to change

Course 11: Why Do We Care About Water Quality?

Course Description:

This course will provide a broad overview of water quality and water resource concerns at a global/national scale and then drill down into Minnesota-specific water quality concerns. Learners will be able to make the connection between water quality and facets of everyday life and topics that citizens can easily relate to (public drinking water supplies, and fishable/swimmable waters).

  • Objective 3.1.a: Cite three water quality concerns in Minnesota.
  • Objective 3.1.b: Summarize how water quality impacts people, the environment, and their livelihoods.

Course 12: Water Contaminants

Course Description:

This course will provide an overview of water contaminants (sediment, nutrients, and bacteria), contaminant sources, and impacts to water quality, habitat, human health, etc. and include an introduction to practices and activities that prevent water contamination.

  • Objective 3.2.a: Identify the major sources of water contamination in Minnesota.
  • Objective 3.2.b: Explain how water quality contamination varies across the state.
  • Objective 3.2.c: Describe how conservation practices and land management activities can address water quality and quantity.

Course 13: Understanding Surface and Groundwater Flow

Course Description:

This course will provide a primer on surface water and groundwater hydrology and the interaction of the two in agricultural and urban areas. Topics will include public drinking water sources, impacts of altering hydrology, groundwater pumping, sources of contamination, the concept of recharge and discharge areas and other principles of basic hydrology, and artificial drainage.

  • Objective 3.3.a: Explain how water surface water and groundwater flow is impacted by land management choices.
  • Objective 3.3.b: Indicate threats to ground water and surface water quality and quantity.

Course 14: Point and Non-Point Sources of Pollution and Controlling Non-Point Sources

Course Description:

This course will define the different between point and non-point sources of pollution and explain how each is regulated differently. This section includes discussion of point and non-point contaminants in developed, agricultural, and forested ecosystems as well as provide an overview on controlling non-point pollution in urban, agricultural and forested environments. Introduction of the drivers of BMPS and conservation: regulatory programs (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and MS4 General Permit) in urban areas, Conservation compliance in agricultural areas, a strong conservation ethic, and climate change adaptation. The most common BMPs in agricultural, urban and forested landscapes are defined and described.

  • Objective 3.4.a: Distinguish between point and non-point sources of pollution.
  • Objective 3.4.b: Describe how each is regulated differently.
  • Objective 3.5.a: Explain how non-point pollutants are regulated differently in cities and agricultural settings.
  • Objective 3.5.b: Name thee common BMPs; one for urban setting, agricultural setting, and forested setting.
  • Objective 3.5.c: Summarize how BMPs reduce non-point pollutant contamination to surface waters.

Course 15: Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy: What you need to know

Course Description:

This course will provide an overview of the Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy, including reduction goals and milestones for nitrogen and phosphorus, how nutrients will be reduced through land management and BMPs, keys to success, evaluating progress.

  • Objective 3.6.a: Describe the general cropland strategies and wastewater strategies to meet reduction goals.
  • Objective 3.6.b: Name three BMPs that are identified in the Minnesota Nutrient Reduction Strategy essential to reaching reduction goals.
  • Objective 3.6.c: Explain how phosphorus and nitrogen move throughout the landscape.

Course 16: Understanding water quality and climate change

Course Description:

This course will discuss how climate change may impact Minnesota‚Äôs water quality and quantity by increasing precipitation, decreasing precipitation, and increasing water temperatures of lakes and streams and how land use choices and conservation practices can protect water quality impairments due to extreme weather events and increasingly intense precipitation.  

  • Objective 3.7.a: Define a resilient landscape.
  • Objective 3.7.b: Describe how conservation on private lands can create a resilient landscape.
  • Objective 3.7.c: Discuss how land use choices and conservation are affected due to increased extreme weather events.