MWMO Newsletter - December 2021 - News, Project Updates, Grant Opportunities, Fall Yard Care and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


Monarch butterfly in the boulevard near Towerside.

Drought, Skate Parks, and Green Infrastructure: Looking Back on 2021

It was another eventful year for MWMO and our partners.

Several new projects also wrapped up this year. A few highlights:

In addition, this summer’s unrelenting drought provided an opportunity to see firsthand the benefits and resilience of some of our past projects:

  • The Towerside District Stormwater System proved more than capable of handling the dry spell, providing the area’s habitat-rich boulevards with and ample supply of recycled stormwater.
  • Native plants in the Hoyer Heights Tree Trenches proved amazingly drought-tolerant in spite of being planted just last year.

Meanwhile, new projects that broke ground this year include the Northpoint Health and Wellness Center and Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) campus expansion projects. (More info on JXTA coming soon.)

In-person events returned to the MWMO this year. Thanks in large part to the availability of COVID vaccines, events like Share the River Nordeast once again drew (masked and socially distanced) crowds to our Stormwater Park and Learning Center.

Our monitoring team also had a busy year. In addition to their regular sampling and data collection activities, the team conducted biological and water quality sampling at the Kasota Ponds, built three new stormwater monitoring stations, and installed a new filter media test station right here at the MWMO.

We also found time to post a few new videos on our ever-growing YouTube channel.

Looking ahead, we anticipate that 2022 will be a year of change for the MWMO, with new staff and board members joining, new projects breaking ground, and our updated 10-year Watershed Management Plan being formally adopted. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on all the changes as they happen.

Thanks for subscribing! From all of our staff, we wish you a happy new year.

Resources to Help Stop Over-Salting this Winter

Close-up picture of an ice chisel.

Winter has arrived in Minnesota, following a spate of unusual weather that included wild temperature swings and unprecedented December tornadoes.

’Tis the season to help stop over-salting. Plow drivers and snow removal contractors will apply approximately 365,000 tons of salt and deicing chemicals on our roads this year, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Nearly 80 percent of those chemicals will end up in local lakes, rivers, or groundwater supplies — and stay there forever, harming fish and other aquatic life.

The MWMO uses various strategies to help stop over-salting, which occurs when more road salt is applied than is appropriate for the road conditions. These include buying smart salting equipment for our member cities and sponsoring free training for public works employees, private contractors, and property managers to become MPCA-certified in smart salting practices.

You can help by adopting smart salting practices at home and encouraging others to do the same. In addition to protecting the environment, these practices have the benefit of saving money and reducing wear-and-tear on roads, sidewalks, and driveways:

  • Clear your snow and ice early and often during and immediately after a snow storm. Don’t give it a chance to thaw and freeze. Depending on the amount and type of snow, a shovel, ice scraper, or even a broom might yield the best results.
  • Use sand or chicken grit to create traction. Both need only be used sparingly to be effective. Be sure to sweep this up when walkways are clear to prevent them from running off into the storm drains and for reuse in the next snowfall.
  • Salt should be the last approach for managing ice, as it is a permanent polluter (as described above). Also, deicing chemicals only work within certain temperature ranges, so make sure you’re choosing something appropriate for the conditions..

There are always ways to improve managing snow and ice. For more information, please check out our brochure (available in Spanish and Somali). City of Minneapolis residents can take the salt mini-course program, and anyone can hire contractors certified by the MPCA’s Smart Salting program.

MWMO Welcomes Isabel Seibert

Isabel Seibert

In November, the MWMO welcomed Isabel Seibert as our new Administrative and Operations Specialist. Isabel provides support for MWMO projects, helps manage the day-to-day operations, and assists with accounting and other administrative tasks.

An avid scuba diver and former UMN Bee Lab research assistant, Isabel earned a B.A. in Biology, Society, and the Environment with a minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota. Along with reading, nature photography, and spending time outside when she can, she enjoys making pottery for her friends and family.

Isabel is excited to be working for an organization that aligns with her goals of mitigating pollution and connecting the community with natural beauty.

Upcoming Events

Amoke Kubat

Weaving Water: Monthly Fiber & Indigo Workshop

Saturday, January 22, 2022 — 10 a.m. to Noon @ MWMO

In January, Weaving Water welcomes guest artist Amoke Kubat (right) of YO MAMA's House for Stitch & Flow: Dream Weaving Stories from the Mississippi River Black Experience. Amoke will share stories of the African-American Mississippi River experience.

MWMO artist-in-residence Sarah Nassif will teach simple stitching techniques all ages can enjoy. Sew a small indigo dyed dream pillow to fill with herbs for good dreams. Stitch, listen and find inspiration in the flow of the river, dreams and stories.

Event Details and Registration

Upcoming Grant Application Deadlines

Planning Grants — Due Friday, March 11, 2022
Community Grants — Due Friday, April 8, 2022

Featured Project

Northrup King Campus Stormwater Management and Prairie Habitat

Northrup King Campus Artist's Conception.

The historic Northrup King Campus in Northeast Minneapolis is set to be converted into affordable housing for artists and a cultural center starting next year. Nonprofit developer Artspace will lead the transformation of the century-old industrial site, which currently houses 200 art studios.

The MWMO is funding green stormwater infrastructure for the site, which currently suffers from drainage problems and contaminated soils. We visited the site earlier this year; the photos reveal both the challenges and potential of the site, as well as its massive scale (13 acres).

Numerous stormwater treatment and reuse features will be installed, along with new prairie habitat. (We posted a PDF of the current plans.) A “stormwater street” will allow visitors and residents to experience first-hand the flow of stormwater runoff and observe the functioning of the site’s many stormwater treatment and reuse systems.

Cuningham Architecture Group, who designed the project, posted some nifty graphics illustrating the stormwater and habitat benefits. Artspace has its own project page with some additional illustrations.