What are SWCDs

Definition
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are political subdivisions of the State established under Minnesota Statute 103C. Each SWCD is governed by a board of 5 elected supervisors. State funding appropriations for SWCDs and their programs are administered through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).

Brief History
The 1st SWCD in Minnesota was created in 1938 (the Clay SWCD originated in 1945) to encourage landowners to conserve soil and water resources. Statewide, 75% of Minnesota lands are in private ownership. In agricultural regions, the number is quite often 95%.

Purpose
SWCDs fill the crucial niche of providing land and water conservation services to owners of private lands. Managing private lands in a way that promotes a sound economy and sustains and enhances natural resources is key to Minnesota’s environmental health. Private landowners trust SWCDs to provide needed technology, funding and educational services because they are established in each community, governed by local leaders and focused on conservation of local soil and water resources.

Nonpoint Source Pollution
SWCDs work to reduce nonpoint source pollution to make Minnesota's lakes and rivers fishable and swimmable. Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution is a term for polluted runoff. Water washing over the land, whether from rain, car washing, or the watering of crops or lawns, picks up an array of contaminants, including oil and sand from roadways, agricultural chemicals from farmland, and nutrients and toxic materials from urban and suburban areas.

This runoff finds its way into our waterways, either directly or through storm drain collection systems. The term nonpoint is used to distinguish this type of diffuse pollution from point source pollution, which comes from specific sources, such as sewage treatment plants or industrial facilities.

Technical Assistance
Landowners across Minnesota count on SWCD technical assistance with conservation practices that protect the quality of Minnesota's greatest treasure - our natural resources.