Coming in 2014: $1 Million in New Funding for Water Improvement Projects in Washington County

When the Minnesota Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment was passed in 2008, it created a pool of funding (from a 3/8 of one percent sales tax increase) to be used across the state to protect drinking water resources, protect and restore habitat, preserve arts and cultural heritage, support parks and trails, and protect and restore lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. Because of this additional funding support, local units of government in our county have been able to dramatically increase the amount of clean water work they do each year. 2014 will be no exception.

On January 22, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) announced recipients for 2014 Clean Water Fund grants; included on the list are ten new projects in Washington County, totaling approximately $1 million. These new initiatives will be in addition to city, county, watershed and Conservation District projects already planned and underway. Here is a sneak peek at what’s in store:

More neighborhood raingardens in Stillwater. During Phase 3 of the Lily Lake Stormwater Retrofit Project (Phases 1 and 2 also received Clean Water Funds) the Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization will continue to work with the Washington Conservation District, City of Stillwater and local residents to install raingardens and other practices to keep stormwater from city streets out of Lily Lake. Grant award: $100,000

The Brown’s Creek Watershed District also received a grant to install residential raingardens in two high priority neighborhoods on the east side of Long Lake. Grant award: $57,000

Cooler water for Brown’s Creek trout. The Brown’s Creek Watershed District will develop a thermal model to determine why Brown’s Creek is sometimes too warm for trout to survive and reproduce and to identify the most cost-effective projects and practices to keep the stream cool. Grant award: $33,500

Improved ordinances and zoning codes. The Middle St. Croix WMO will work with St. Croix River communities to update their local ordinances and zoning codes to ensure that stormwater pollution from new development and redevelopment doesn’t pollute the river. Grant award: $127,000

Wetland enhancements in Bixby Park, Forest Lake. The Comfort Lake – Forest Lake Watershed District will work with the City of Forest Lake to modify an existing wetland complex in Bixby Park to improve water quality and reduce the amount of dissolved phosphorus heading downstream to Comfort Lake. This project is part of a larger planned effort to turn Bixby Park into a 100-acre nature park. Grant award: $360,750

Agricultural projects in targeted locations near the St. Croix River. The Washington Conservation District will work with 8-10 rural and agricultural land owners in high priority areas to install projects that reduce runoff and erosion to the river. Grant award:  $216,130

Funding to seal abandoned wells. Washington County will work with landowners to seal wells that are no longer in use in order to prevent groundwater contamination. Grant award:  $21,350

Clean water projects at businesses, schools and homeowner associations. The Washington Conservation District will work with homeowner associations in Washington County on projects to conserve water and reduce stormwater runoff. Grant award: $50,000

The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District will also be working with commercial retail areas, strip malls and schools to identify retrofit projects that can reduce stormwater pollution to nearby lakes and streams. Grant awards: $58,515 commercial /  $54,083 schools

More bang for the buck.  Conservation Districts in the 11-county metro area will continue to conduct “subwatershed” studies in order to identify the most cost-effective practices and the best locations to keep stormwater runoff out of area lakes, rivers and streams. Grant award: $250,000