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Free Computer and Web Tool Informs Nutrient Reduction Strategies

Wayne and John Finny

An innovative technology solution is allowing water quality professionals to develop water quality plans and prioritize projects more accurately to receive state funding.

The tool, called the Prioritize, Target & Measure Application, or “PTMApp”, developed by the International Water Institute and Houston Engineering, is a LIDAR-based prioritization, target, and measure application that helps identify down to an individual field scale (40-120 acres) where the highest sediment and nutrient exports are occurring within a watershed.

PTMApp also gives the user the ability to monitor and estimate benefits that would occur at any location downstream from conservation practices that are placed on the ground.

This tool is being used in many of the watersheds in both Minnesota and North Dakota locations of the basin.

The PTMApp has the potential to greatly enhance work done by other basin organizations such as the Red River Basin Commission as they develop their nutrient management plan.

“Many entities are struggling to reduce sediment and nutrients in surface and groundwater. Those issues can continue even after decades of conservation efforts,” says Engineer Mark Deutschman, with Houston Engineering, Inc. “The PTMApp is a desktop toolbar and web interface designed to develop information that informs nutrient reduction strategies.”

The PTMApp tool can help identify specific field-scale practices leading to the most cost-effective improvements in water quality. Users can find the most efficient best management practices (BMPs) relative to a resource of concern (a specific location – e.g. a lake, stream reach or wetland complex). Outputs from PTMApp are agile enough to use in internal or public plan development meetings, or during one-on-one conversations with landowners.

PTMApp can be used in real-time by Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), Watershed Districts, county local water planning, agency staff and decision-makers to:

  • Prioritize resources and issues impacting them.
  • Target specific fields to place CPs and BMPs.
  • Measure water quality improvement by tracking expected nutrient and sediment load reduction to priority resources.
  • Create reports documenting the prioritization, targeting, and measuring process.
  • Establish tailored CPs and BMPs implementation scenarios for funding by the Board of Water and Soil Resources and other agencies.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) plans to support the PTMApp technology solution as the statewide standard. BWSR has acknowledged the potential for this work with a grant to develop a decision support application to support the concept of watershed-based prioritized, targeted, and measurable planning and implementation.

PTMApp-Desktop has been publicly released and is available for download upon submitting registration information. The PTMApp-Web component allows users to access some of the PTMAP-Desktop data products.  Simply request access to the public dataset (Root River) using your registered user information.

The PTMApp has been applied in a number of One Watershed One Plan pilot watersheds, including the Red Lake River and Root River watersheds in the Red River Basin. A statewide PTMApp outreach/support budget and business plan is being developed for BWSR. The International Water Institute also recently submitted a BWSR proposal to incorporate hydrology and stream stability evaluations into PTMApp.

Chuck Fritz, IWI Executive Director, noted, “The Red River Watershed Management Board serves as the fiscal agent for PTMApp and has been a great partner in the development of this, and other, innovative water and natural resource management tools to help make better more informed resource management decisions.”

The PTMApp Desktop and Web is available at: http://www.rrbdin.org/prioritize-target-measure-application-ptmapp

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Contact the RRWMB

Address: P.O. Box 763 | Detroit Lakes, MN 56502
Telephone: (218) 844-6166
FAX: (218) 844-6167
E-mail: rrwmb@arvig.net