For release: Sept. 5, 2013 Contact: Jennifer Maleitzke, 651-215-9008 (office); 651-315-5082 (cell)
Environmental improvements are adding up due to Legacy funding
Money now available to improve lakes, rivers and wetlands
St. Paul, Minn.—Nearly 200 environmental projects have been funded in the metro area thanks to the
Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment – and the improvements are starting to add up.
Through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources' (BWSR) Clean Water Fund grant program, nearly $60 million has been invested in "on-the-ground" projects, where citizens and local governments are installing conservation practices to improve the quality in our lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater.
A few examples of metro projects that have made environmental impacts include:
• Cleaning up Stubbs Bay on Lake Minnetonka - $164,346 was invested to stabilize a 500-foot ravine that was polluting Lake Minnetonka with sediment and phosphorus, making recreation less enjoyable. The City of Orono tackled the problem with a Clean Water Fund grant by fixing the ravine through control structures and native plantings. Water quality has since improved in the bay, as the completed project allows fewer pollutants to enter the lake.
• Restoring habitat on Nine Mile Creek – Stormwater runoff in the highly developed and urbanized part of southern Hennepin County has decreased Nine Mile Creek's fish population and other aquatic habitat. Local governments teamed up to restore the habitat and stabilize erosion issues on the creek through a $136,000 Clean Water Fund grant. The Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, Hennepin County, Three Rivers Park District and cities of Minnetonka and Hopkins used natural engineering techniques to stabilize stream banks and create pools, resulting in better in-stream habitat for fish and other species.
• Reducing stormwater runoff to Mississippi River – The construction of the Light Rail along University Avenue presented a unique opportunity to improve the quality of stormwater runoff to the Mississippi River. Before construction of the Light Rail, stormwater runoff from University Avenue was untreated and dumped directly to the river. A $665,000 Clean Water Fund grant augmented large investments from the Capitol Region Watershed District, City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County and the Metropolitan Council to invest in "green" infrastructure practices, including integrated tree trench systems, stormwater planters, rain gardens and infiltration trenches. These practices will achieve significant stormwater volume reduction and water quality improvements to the Mississippi River.
BWSR's Executive Director, John Jaschke, said investments made through these grant programs are noticeably improving Minnesota's lakes and rivers.
"Because of the Legacy funding, we've been able to complete more conservation projects than ever before," Jaschke said. "All across the state, lakes and rivers are being cleaned up or protected and the funding is also benefitting jobs and property values in local communities. It's a win-win situation."
From Sept. 3 – Oct. 4, more money will become available for similar projects for many communities across Minnesota. BWSR will accept grant applications, where local units of government can compete for more than $17 million for projects that will protect and restore Minnesota's streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater.
Eligible projects include those that control storm water runoff in agricultural or urban areas, or that will improve water quality by replacing problem septic systems, upgrading feedlots, or establishing native vegetation along shorelines in environmentally-sensitive areas. Minnesota's cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs), watershed districts and watershed management organizations are eligible for the grants.
Interested in learning about more Clean Water Fund projects? Visit the BWSR website at: www.bwsr.state.mn.us.
Note to the editor: Specific project information and photos may be available upon request.
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