Al Ayotte’s Story

Al Ayotte has been raising cattle and custom grazes just east of Ridgeville and west of Tolstoi for several years. Historically, this particular region been most susceptible to drought related and flooding issues. Al has immensely struggled this year with water flooding his land and filling his ditch resulting in an absence of water just a mere 3 weeks later. The last rainfall during the early months of July which consisted of approximately 2 inches took three days to flow onto Al’s land and once the water flowed it remained. However, the water hadn’t reached Al’s third dam which resulted in severe dry conditions that had negatively impacted his pasture and forage. The dry conditions induced severe browning on his pasture. According to Al, because of this Al would lose 500 bales of hay, which would cause a significant economic loss.

Partnership with Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District (SSRWD)

Through Al’s struggles he developed an objective which consisted of increasing the range of green and healthy grass located in his pasture by slowing down water runoff to hold more water in the channel. Al had realized through experimentation with small drain structures that the implementation of smaller drain structures could significantly increase the productivity and health of his pastures, and in effect more than doubling the available pasture, which would satisfy his objective. Al had then partnered with the SSRWD in hopes the Watershed District would provide him with the knowledge and assistance he desperately needed. The SSRWD then worked alongside Al and build two earth and rock drop structures along the established channel at the north and south sites. These two structures were intended to hold water back in the channel after a spring melt as well as following normal and abnormal rainfalls. Each structure was built with the intention of holding 1 acre foot of water within each the channel. These structures will undeniably slow down water runoff flowing down stream and allow water to be held within the channel for a significant length of time. In effect allowing better infiltration into Al’s pasture surrounding the channel and an obvious increase in the range of healthy grass. Al states that he “can’t wait to get a wet season,” he believes “there’s no such thing as too much water when you’re growing grass.”

Check Dam SRRWD Installed in 2020 for Al Ayotte


Seine Rat Roseau Watershed District (SSRWD) Projects & Funding

According to SSRWD, water retention projects such as the one built for Al Ayotte are normally built as temporary or seasonal water storage measures, but SRRWD has noticed that these structures are undeniably providing landowners with drought protection. This protection is considered quite necessary during a time when the climate is drastically changing, and water scarcity is becoming an issue.

The SSRWD currently has several projects that are entering the construction phase, however SRRWD possesses the funding as part of a new initiative entitled GRowing Outcomes in Watersheds (GROW) to begin new projects during the reminder of the 2021 as well as into the new year 2022.  Normally retention projects take an average of two years to complete as, the SRRWD regularly consults with all partners and stakeholders involved to make sure all parties are completely aware of the processes.

Details and application information can be found at

Check Dam holds back water recharging surrounding ground water