As the west metro regional manager for Conservation Minnesota I get asked all sorts of questions about conservation related issues. But one of the most common questions I am asked is, “What concrete actions can I take to improve water quality in my community?” After all, the problems associated with water quality can seem overwhelming, and at times it can be hard to visualize what a person can do to make a tangible difference in their own community.
Thankfully there are a number of programs that people can participate in right now to help improve water quality in their own community.
One of the best examples of these sorts of programs is called “Adopt A Storm Drain” and it is being rolled out in Bloomington this fall as a joint project of the local Nine Mile Creek Watershed District, the City of Bloomington, and Hamline University.
This program is relatively simple yet highly effective. Here’s how it works, volunteers interested in adopting a neighborhood storm drain can sign up online to find a storm drain in their neighborhood that needs help. Folks who sign up will then be responsible for removing debris, like leaves and grass clippings, once in the fall and once in the spring and then reporting their results to the program administrators. In exchange, residents who participate will receive a metal yard sign showing what they are doing to help protect their community’s waters. This will hopefully help to recruit additional residents to participate in the program.
For now, the program in Bloomington is focusing on storm drains around Normandale Lake and Nine Mile Creek due to pre-existing issues both bodies of water already have and also as a compliment to the ongoing local efforts to improve water quality in Normandale Lake. However, if this project is successful it could expand community-wide and possibly to other cities in the west metro as well!
Things like leaves and grass clippings being washed down storm drains remain a major cause of excess nutrients in bodies of water in the west metro area. And the buildup of these nutrients can have all sorts of impacts on water quality from toxic blue-green algae blooms to excess levels of nitrates. But the good news is, every storm drain that gets kept clean really can help improve water quality overall and yet it starts just down the street.
So, if you’re interested in taking action to help improve water quality in Bloomington sign up online or contact me at 612-767-1571 or JohnA@ConservationMinnesota.org today!