My work communicating about streams literally came home today. A creek bed winds through the corner of our land near the highway, moving water from fields on the ridge and hillsides, under Highway 16, through the field to the north, and into the Root River. It’s usually a dry creek, but when we get a good rainstorm it fills and and the water moves.
In late June, after several nights of hard thunderstorms, we had 48-hour rainfall with a statistical frequency of about once every 500 years. When we arrived at our land afterward, flow debris was deposited well into our open acres. Water didn’t come near the house, but it crossed the drive and left its mark.
So Tuesday I called Fillmore County Soil & Water Conservation District and was happy to connect with Doug Keene, who’s looked at a lot of flood damage this year. He offered to come take a look, and we met this morning.
Tromping the stream bed showed more trees and wood debris than last year, and more exposed rocks. Doug told us the channel drains water from 200 acres, and water had moved fast enough to clear out soil and sand that had filled the channel in over time.
So my immediate question was: Where is that soil and what did it change downstream? Doug had the same thought and suggested we call him after the corn is harvested, so he can see the full situation in the stretch between us and the river. We confirmed that the channel was bermed years ago, and that hard rains undermined a short stretch. When Stan’s back to do more excavating, we’ll repair it.
After this we drove to Winona, where I met with Whitewater Watershed colleagues to review a website. Discussion turned to connection, which it always does when we talk about water. In a flash I felt the need to find out who our upstream neighbors are, and to hike up that draw. I want to see where our water comes from.