Just before the holidays, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources announced recipients of 2017 Clean Water Fund grants; Washington County communities will be receiving more than $2 million in new funding to protect lakes, streams, rivers and groundwater in our area! The funding comes from a three-eighths of one percent sales tax approved by voters in 2008 to support clean water, parks and trails, habitat, and arts in Minnesota. Read on for a summary of new projects to be funded.
Bayport – $63,000 will go to the Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization (MSCWMO) to install up to ten bioinfiltration projects (large raingardens) to clean stormwater runoff from 85 acres of land draining to Perro Creek. The projects will keep six pounds of phosphorus and one ton of sediment out of Perro Creek and the St. Croix River each year, thereby helping to make the creek safer and prevent algae blooms in the river.
Forest Lake and Scandia – $505,000 will be used to help Forest Lake Area Schools, the Rice Creek Watershed District and the City of Forest Lake retrofit stormwater ponds and construct new irrigation systems to reduce groundwater use by more than 4 million gallons per year. Using stormwater for irrigation will prevent 20 pounds of phosphorus and 2 tons of sediment from flowing into Clear Lake each year. In addition, grant funds will be used to develop education curriculum so that students learn about water conservation and water reuse technology.
$824,000 will go to the Comfort Lake – Forest Lake Watershed District to impound water from a tributary to Shields Lake in order to irrigate Forest Hills Golf Course. The project will keep 77 pounds of phosphorus per year out of Shields Lake, which flows into Forest Lake. The watershed district will also conduct a whole-lake alum treatment on Shields Lake. The two projects combined are expected to reduce phosphorus loads to Forest Lake by up to 250 pounds per year (equivalent to 125,000lb of algae). In addition, the watershed district will receive $88,000 to restore six wetland areas flowing into Bone Lake in Scandia, which will reduce phosphorus by 50 pounds per year.
$36,000 will is also designated to help Comfort Lake – Forest Lake Watershed District and the City of Forest Lake develop an enhanced street sweeping plan to reduce stormwater pollution to Forest Lake and Clear Lake.
Stillwater – $58,000 will go to the MSCWMO to design a stormwater retrofit project for Lily Lake. For the first time since 1985, Lily Lake is showing an improving trend in water quality (lower phosphorus concentrations during the summer) thanks to nearly a decade of targeted lake improvement projects. MSCWMO, the city, and local homeowners have installed 36 projects to date, which have cut phosphorus flowing to Lily Lake by 100 pounds per year. With funds from the 2017 grant, MSCWMO will design projects to capture 45 additional pound of phosphorus, which will allow the lake to be removed from the Minnesota Impaired Waters list.
$274,250 will go to the Brown’s Creek Watershed District to retrofit McKusick Road so that less sediment flows to Brown’s Creek. The Watershed District will work with Washington County to retrofit seven catch basins with separation devices, and install three large underground tanks to trap sediment and litter from the roadway. The retrofits will keep 2 tons of sediment out of the stream each year and will make it easier for the county and watershed district to complete future stream improvement projects without disturbing the roadway. Brown’s Creek Watershed District will also receive $51,525 conduct a cost-benefit analysis and model restoration scenarios for a three-mile, unforested segment of Brown’s Creek.
Countywide – $100,000 will go to Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment to collect, digitize and review historical septic system permit records from 1972-2004. The county will also conduct a risk analysis to identify problem areas where failing systems could be polluting surface and groundwater resources.
In addition, Minnesota Department of Health will provide Washington County with $20,000 to enhance its well sealing program. The money will be used to help more than 20 landowners seal abandoned and unused wells in targeted areas of the county, near public wells and areas of contamination (100% cost-share up to $2000). In other parts of the county, the existing 50% cost share program will remain in place (wells that are part of a current property transfer or sale are not eligible).
$81,000 will be used to expand the existing Master Water Stewards program into Washington and southern Chisago Counties. Working in partnership with the Freshwater Society, the Washington Conservation District will recruit and train 20 citizen stewards to implement clean water projects in priority areas of the Brown’s Creek, Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix, Comfort Lake – Forest Lake, Middle St. Croix, and South Washington Watersheds. Stewards will complete a total of ten water quality improvement projects in addition to providing support for education and civic engagement activities.
The Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment will provide annual funding until 2034. Between 2010 and 2016, $649 million in grants were allocated statewide through the Clean Water Fund. In addition, $378 million were allocated through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, $630 million through the Outdoor Heritage Fund (habitat projects), and $271 through the Parks and Trails Fund. Habitat and water projects are also funded through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust (Minnesota State Lottery revenues), which distributed $215 million between 2010 and 2016.