Have you ever considered what happens with the storm-water from the impervious sufaces of the urban landscape??
We have. We place a strong emphasis on sustainability within our company and runoff is a major concern not only within our organization but within organizations like the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Watersheds, and Green Step Cities throughout Minnesota.
Runoff carries with it solids and residuals from fertilizers, salts, oil and other contaminants which contain chemicals and heavy metals which travel from impervious surfaces through storm water systems and eventually end up saturating our natural waterways this is a fact.
Have you noticed recently how overgrown and yucky the algae is at the lake? How about the dead floating fish? No this is not because nature isn't maintaining the lakes ecosystem. The lakes are algae ridden almost to the point they are unusable because they are the destination point for storm water runoff in the surrounding area.
The fertilizers and heavy metals contained in runoff causes algae blooms which feed on dissolved oxygen in the water and kills the fish which require dissolved oxygen to survive.
the metro area construction is booming and houses are being built at an unbelievable rate. The equipment used to grade and build houses are heavy. So heavy they compact soils to the point of almost 0% airspace. This kills off any organic matter that would otherwise naturally aerate the soil structure.
When soils are sterile and compacted, even when sodded the turf area is considered an impervious surface. When fertilizers, herbicides and other turf treatments are applied and the site is irrigated, the chemicals are not penetrating the root zone efficiently but are instead carried away in rain events and contaminate the natural waterways which has raised the concern of cities across the state.
There is a solution
GreenStep Cities across the state have been implementing sustainable Best Management Practices (BMP's) to intercept storm water and contamination issues before they reach the lakes and streams. Rain Gardens and Bio-Swale Boulevards are becoming the BMP of choice for large scale water treatment and infiltration.
Rain Gardens capture, hold and infiltrate storm water from heavy rain events. They use deep rooted and often native plant materials as well as an engineered soil structure to filter contaminants before they enter the earth or head further downstream.
The Bio-Swale Boulevards pictured below was installed and is maintained by our company MN Nice Gardens and Landscapes for the City of Fridley and in Partnership with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
In addition to large scale BMP's for storm-water contaminant handling, there are a few things we can be conscious of as homeowners for responsible landscape management.
All plant material needs only 1" of water per week which isn't much. We do not need to water every other day to have green turf areas. If anything add iron and watering less will encourage deeper roots and a more resilient turf area which becomes more drought tolerant as we train it to be.
Using proper application rates for fertilizers and using organic fertilizers greatly reduce the amount of contaminants that end up in our waterways.
Minimize Turf Areas
Reduce the amount of grass are we have by incorporating permeable greenspace with planting and landscape beds.
Residential Rain Gardens
Your Watershed District will probably have grants available for Rain Garden Installations so go check it out! Rain Gardens are a contemporary landscape feature that is ecologically responsible. So mitigate your runoff onsite before it hits the storm water system.
It is important to recognize that Minneapolis has a recognized contaminant issue in our natural waterways and ecosystems. I personally am proud to have the opportunity to work with homeowners, local watersheds and GreenStep cities to work toward implementing sustainable BMP's. The more awareness we have of the problem and the options we have to mitigate it the faster we can engineer a Sustainable Built Environment.