Citizen-Based Stormwater Management
Stormwater runoff carries pollutants from yards, streets, and parking lots directly into lakes, streams, and wetlands. Rain gardens-specialized plantings of native perennials that require few inputs-have been found to be an effective way to capture runoff and allow it to drain more slowly into the ground, a process that both filters pollutants and helps recharge groundwater supplies. Metro Blooms, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization, will use this grant to install approximately 150 rain gardens concentrated near Powderhorn Lake in Minneapolis and evaluate their effectiveness in directly helping to improve the lake's water quality.
Overall Project Outcome and Results
The long term success in reducing impairments to local water bodies will require better citizen-based approaches to increase public awareness and affect behavior change. This project demonstrates a fast-paced approach to citizen engagement for the installation of raingardens within a 28-acre area that drains to Powderhorn Lake (Minneapolis). A paired watershed study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of raingardens in reducing runoff and pollutant loads generated solely on private property.
230 community members participated in project installation events and activities demonstrating the connection between runoff and water quality of Powderhorn Lake. Approximately 50% of homeowners in the test neighborhood received a free raingarden for a total of 125 project-installed raingardens. Two congregations also installed raingardens and permeable pavement strips in their parking lots. Youth and young adult job programs excavated and planted the majority of gardens. More than 70,000 sq. ft. of impervious area was redirected to a stormwater best management practice (BMP). Additionally, 50% of participants also exhibited behavior change by taking voluntary steps to reduce run off from their property (redirecting downspouts, installing rainbarrels, or additional raingardens).
Performance was measured by monitoring the quality and quantity of stormwater discharged to Powderhorn Lake from the test and control sites and comparing results. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board installed and maintained equipment for three years, providing stormwater runoff characteristics before and after raingarden installation.
Fewer water quality samples were collected than planned due to challenges posed by the urban storm sewer system and climatic conditions. While the paired watershed analysis results do not show a statistically significant outcome, the few water quality samples collected in 2011 provide promise that the test neighborhood efforts could have reduced pollutant loads when compared with the control area. Continued stormwater monitoring is planned in both areas (funded by the City of Minneapolis).
Project Results Use and Dissemination
The project has continued to engage others in similar efforts across the Twin Cities metropolitan area, including 14 additional Neighborhood-of-Raingardens style projects led by Metro Blooms and another 170+ raingardens installed.
Neighborhood of Raingardens is also a film produced by University of Minnesota's Mark Pedelty, and funded by the Institute on the Environment. The film gives an introduction to raingardens and stormwater runoff and highlights the Powderhorn Park project. It aired on the MN Channel (TPT MN) on April 22, 2011 at 7:30pm, with repeats on April 23, 2011 at 1:30am and 7:30am, and during the month of June. The film has been shown at neighborhood events and co-ops and is available to be viewed online or for download at http://www.raingardenmovie.org.
Metro Blooms has a created a Powerpoint presentation on the project, which has been presented to the Watershed Partners and Blue Thumb partners, as well as staff of the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District. We will be presenting our project at the2012 Water Resources Conference, a state-wide event that showcases innovative, practical, and applied water resource engineering solutions, management techniques, and current research about Minnesota's water resources.
All project partners received a copy of the final report and executive summary. All project participants received a copy of the executive summary with accompanied raingarden maintenance brochure. The full report and executive summary are available on our website at http://www.metroblooms.org/neighborhood-of-raingardens.org. Additional copies of the executive summary will be made available at outreach events and upon request, while supplies last.
A Citizen-Based Approach to Stormwater Management: Raingardens to Improve Impaired Waters (PDF - 12.6 MB)
$279,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources for an agreement with Metro Blooms, in cooperation with Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the city of Minneapolis, to install and evaluate the effectiveness of rain gardens on improving the impaired water of Powderhorn Lake in Minneapolis. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2012, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".
Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".