Seasons The Greening of Maplewood
Cleaning Up Impaired Waters
By Virginia Gaynor, Natural Resources Coordinator If we could go back in time, to the 1940s, 50s, or 60s, armed with our current knowledge, we’d design our stormwater system differently. Back then the goal of engineers and urban planners was to quickly remove stormwater from neighborhoods to prevent flooding. The solution was to pipe it to nearby lakes, streams, and wetlands. For flood control – to protect people and property - we sacrificed water quality. The Federal Clean Water Act requires states to adopt water quality standards for surface waters. In Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) sets water quality standards and is responsible for maintaining a list of waters that do not meet standards. In Maplewood, the MPCA has designated two creeks and four of our nine lakes as impaired. Poor water quality is caused by pollutants. Stormwater runoff is piped into our lakes, streams, and wetlands, and with it comes nutrients, sediments, organic materials,
pathogens, metals, pesticides, trash, and debris. Mercury from atmospheric deposition settles in our lakes and is consumed by fish. Chloride (salt) from winter salting of roads makes its way into surface water and impacts aquatic species. And within a lake, sediments can release nutrients and degrade water quality. For Maplewood’s impaired waters, RamseyWashington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) is responsible for preparing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study to submit to the MPCA. This type of study identifies and quantifies the pollutants, determines how much pollutants need to be reduced to meet standards, and recommends strategies to achieve the reductions. From there it is up to the City, RWMWD, and partners to implement projects to reduce the specified pollutants and improve water quality (see article on page 2). Algae blooms and excessive vegetation in Maplewood lakes is a common complaint heard by City staff. Nutrients in stormwater runoff, especially phosphorus, act as fertilizers and drive algae and plant growth. Aquatic plants are a crucial part of the lake ecosystem, but algae and excessive vegetation can degrade the lake for aquatic
Fall 2017 life, recreation, and aesthetics. The MPCA updates the list of impaired waters every two years. Three Maplewood lakes that were on the 2014 list had improved enough to be delisted in 2016 including Keller Lake, Carver Lake, and Beaver Lake. The improvements in water quality can be attributed to stormwater management projects that have been implemented over the past several years. Most Maplewood residents are familiar with rain gardens – planted swales that capture stormwater and allow it to infiltrate. But the City, RWMWD, and developers have installed many other types of structures or systems to treat Maplewood stormwater: spent lime ponds, iron enhanced sand basins, grit chambers and sump structures, and large underground filtration systems. Strategies implemented within lakes are alum treatments, sediment removal, and carp control. RWMWD is testing the effectiveness of weed harvesting. And the City, businesses, and homeowners employ best management practices such as erosion control and sustainable lawn care to help reduce pollutants (see articles on page 3). If we all work together, we can clean up impaired waters.
Impaired Waters in Maplewood Lake/Creek Gervais Lake Kohlman Lake Wakefield Lake Lake Phalen Battle Creek Fish Creek 2016 MPCA List of Impaired Waters
Keller Lake, delisted as an impaired water in 2016
Impaired For Aquatic Consumption (mercury in fish) Aquatic Life, Recreation (chloride, nutrients) Recreation (nutrients) Aquatic Consumption (mercury in fish) Aquatic Life (chloride, poor biotic health) Recreation (E Coli)
Wakefield Lake External vs Internal Phosphorous Loads
Wakefield Lake External Phosphorous Loads
Co. Rd. B East
Maplewood City Hall
White Bear Ave.
Wakefield Lake External Phosphorous Loads
Wakefield Water Quality
By Shann Finwall, Environmental Planner Growing up in Maplewood I fondly recall swimming in Wakefield Lake as a child. Now, Wakefield Lake is listed as an impaired water for excess nutrients - namely too much phosphorous. This results in nuisance algae blooms that impact water clarity, overall aesthetics, and recreational uses such as swimming. The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District (RWMWD) completed a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study for Wakefield Lake in July 2017. The goal of the study is to identify the pollutant reductions needed to meet the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s water quality standards. Wakefield Lake is a shallow lake with a mean depth of 4.5 feet and a maximum depth of 9 feet. The major source of excess nutrients is from stormwater runoff with secondary sources coming from the release of phosphorus from lake sediment and die back of aquatic plants. So what can we do to reduce the phosphorus load to Wakefield Lake? To achieve the water quality standards, a 46% reduction of the growing season phosphorus load is required. Partnerships between the City, RWMWD, developers, and property owners will be key. We will first work on the watershed load – the stormwater runoff that enters the lake. Projects are already underway. RWMWD has completed design work for a spent lime treatment system a few blocks northeast of the lake which will capture phosphorus before it reaches Wakefield Lake. Curb cuts are being added to several boulevard rain gardens in the neighborhood so they can capture street runoff. There will be new opportunities to capture and treat stormwater during road reconstruction and development projects. In addition, City staff and partners are looking at potential maintenance improvements such as increased street sweeping. Once external sources of pollution are reduced, attention will turn to the internal phosphorus load of the lake. Strategies such as alum treatment and controlling aquatic vegetation are the primary recommendations to reduce internal phosphorus loading at Wakefield Lake. While we might not be swimming again in Wakefield Lake soon, the water quality will improve over time with the reduction in the phosphorus load. For more information on the Wakefield Lake TMDL study visit the City’s Impaired Waters website at www.maplewoodmn.gov/impairedwaters. Seasons 2
Help Clean Our Waterways
By Chris Swanson, Environmental Specialist • Adopt a storm drain. Help remove leaves, grass, and trash from the storm drain in front of your house. Never rake or blow grass clippings or leaves into the street. The leaves will go directly into the storm sewer system and into our waterways, where they biologically degrade and release an overabundance of nutrients, and doing so is illegal. • Mulch or compost your grass and leaves. Mulching your grass and leaves reduces the need for fertilizer. If you don’t want to mulch you can place the clippings in your backyard compost (www.maplewoodmn.gov/compost), in your yard waste bin through the City’s trash hauling service (www.maplewoodmn.gov/trash), Adopt a Storm Drain - help remove leaves, grass, and trash or bring it to one of Ramsey County’s yard waste sites and dispose of it for free from the storm drain in front of your house. (www.ramseyrecycles.com or 651-633-EASY - 24/7). • Use zero-phosphorous fertilizer. Our soils are already phosphorous rich, they do not need more. If you do feel the need to fertilize your lawn do not use a fertilizer that contains phosphorous as that is the nutrient that causes algae blooms. Be sure to sweep fertilizer off all hard surfaces. City code prohibits commercial establishments from selling fertilizer containing phosphorus. Watershed • Reduce storm water runoff. Runoff comes from water running over hard District Cost Share surfaces. Runoff washes grass clippings, leaves, nutrients, and pollutants into Grants For BMPs our waterways. Direct downspouts onto your lawn and create rain gardens to Ramsey-Washington Metro slowly infiltrate the water. Watershed District: • Use native plants. Native plants are adapted to our environment and do www.rwmwd.org/costshare not need fertilizers or pesticides. Native plants also have deeper root systems Capitol Region Watershed District: which accommodate more infiltration. www.capitolregionwd.org/our-work/grants/ • Properly dispose of hazardous waste. Don’t pour gasoline or oil into Valley Branch Watershed District: the street or wash paint brushes at the end of your driveway. The pollution ends up www.vbwd.org/GrantForms.htm in our waterways, and doing so is illegal. Dispose of hazardous waste at one of Ramsey Countys Hazardous waste sites for free (www.ramseyrecycles.com or 651-633-EASY - 24/7).
By Oakley Biesanz, Naturalist 1,162,084 - that’s how many gallons of water the Master Water Stewards’ projects help infiltrate into the soil every single year! Thanks to the tireless efforts of Stewards, that water will be able to enter the soil to water plants and restore groundwater reserves instead of polluting our waterways. If you’re passionate about clean water and have an interest in getting more involved in your community, consider joining the Master Water Stewards. Master Water Stewards is a volunteer education and outreach certification program designed to equip citizens with the knowledge and skills needed to help improve water quality at the grassroots level. Stewards-in-training meet Tuesday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m., beginning October 10, 2017 through April 17, 2018 and two Saturdays on October 14, 2017, and February 10, 2018. The
program also has an online component. As part of the certification process, Stewards work in pairs to design a capstone project and develop an outreach educational activity or event. Stewards volunteer 50 hours of community service in their initial year of certification, at least 25 hours each subsequent year, and attend eight hours of continuing education to maintain their certification.
Master Water Stewards installed a home cistern to capture rain water from part of his roof and garage. The water collected will be used for watering the lawn and plants.
The program is a partnership between the Freshwater Society and participating cities, watershed districts, watershed management organizations, and non-profits. The application deadline has
been extended to October 5 (www.masterwaterstewards.org).
Questions - contact Sage Passi, Watershed Education Specialist, Ramsey-Washington Watershed District at 612-598-9163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aquatic Plants Vital to Marsh!
By Ann Hutchinson, Lead Naturalist “How deep is the Marsh?” “Is this a lake?” “Look at the river!” Students are clearly excited by water. The Nature Center’s 600-foot floating boardwalk enhances the opportunity to touch, feel, and explore Green Heron Marsh. Rain water runoff from the nearby homes, businesses, and streets fill the marsh - the lowest spot in a 95-acre sub-watershed. Marsh depths vary depending on the weather. During drought years, the pond dries up completely and you can walk across it. Deer cavort in the meadow and red fox den on the island. This year the frequent spring and summer rains filled the pond enough to entice a brand new wildlife sighting: a river otter! Perhaps it was feeding on the muskrats, ducks, crayfish, and minnows.
Nature Center’s 600-Foot Long Floating Boardwalk
But it’s the plants in the marsh that are the essential component of the wetland web. A wide variety of plants act as furniture for invertebrates; a dining room for muskrats and ducks; and a nursery for pied billed grebes and songbirds such as redwing blackbirds.
Part the curtain of duckweed on the water’s surface and you will be surprised to find a clear view of the healthy ecosystem thriving below. Duckweed consists of tiny green leaves each with its own root, and is lunch for turtles, ducks, and ducklings, and cover for a myriad of nymphs and naiads. Algae is different than duckweed. It consists of slimy filamentous strings that “bloom” or reproduce when exposed to excess phosphorous. Fortunately, Green Heron Marsh rarely sees large algae blooms - although it can happen on occasion. Thanks in part to pretreatment by several rain gardens, the waters of Green Heron Marsh remain unimpaired. The marsh has been evaluated and determined to be Manage A wetlands with a 100-foot wetland buffer.
Water Lilies Dominate the Surface of Green Heron Marsh photo by: Earl Bye
The aptly named coontails comprise 80% of the underwater “forest”, while water lilies dominate the surface. Lily stems firmly rooted in the pond muck surprise children who mistakenly assume that the leaves and flowers float unattached. Fish take cover under the broad leaves; turn one over to discover snail trails on the undersides. The carnivorous bladderwort is a floating plant that sports a bright yellow upright flower that reaches above the water line. Underwater, tiny bladder-like structures float in mass along the stem and trap tiny crustaceans and protozoa to digest them for dinner!
A River Otter is Spotted for the First Time in Green Heron Marsh
This healthy pond is full of plants and animals. See if you can find them all, then color the picture! Zooplankton
Insect Larva Mosquito
By Kayla Wolfe, Naturalist
Arrowroot Duckweed Bladderwort Waterlilies
Elodea Coontail Watermilfoil
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