Tiny Perro Creek begins in Valley View Park, a hidden gem tucked between Phil and Tara’s Hideaway, the two Minnesota Correctional Facilities, and the Bayport Fire Department. From Perro Pond, the stream runs downhill 1.8 miles through the neighborhoods of Bayport until it eventually reaches the St. Croix River just north of Bayport Marina.
Though Bayport could hardly be called a big city, Perro Creek has experienced many changes familiar to urban streams around the country. Beginning in 1856, settlers made changes to straighten and shorten the stream so that more land would be available for homes and businesses. In addition to this channelization, streamside landowners have gradually removed the natural buffer of trees, shrubs and taller plants to make room for driveways, decks, and lawns. The biggest change of all happens during the winter, when the city closes the outlet from Perro Pond to the creek to prevent flooding in town. During these months, water from the pond flows directly to the St. Croix River through a series of storm sewer pipes and Perro Creek entirely ceases to exist.
Not surprisingly, monitoring data collected from Perro Creek has identified a number of water quality concerns. Between 2006-2012, monitoring showed that the stream exceeded allowable standards for total suspended solids (sediment), E. Coli, lead and copper. In addition, phosphorus picked up by Perro Creek flows into the St. Croix River and contributes to algae blooms during the summer.
The Middle St. Croix Watershed Management Organization and Washington Conservation District conducted follow-up monitoring in 2016 to determine where along Perro Creek these pollutants might be coming from. Automated equipment was installed at the two outlets of Perro Pond (one to the creek and the other to the stormwater pipe), and at the diversion structure between the Perro Creek main channel and the overflow pipe. The results showed that the stream leaves Perro Pond in pristine condition and picks up virtually all of its nutrients and pollutants during the short, 1.8 mile journey through town.
Now, Middle St. Croix WMO has a $63,000 Clean Water Grant from the State of Minnesota to improve water quality in Perro Creek. The grant will provide funding to design and install up to ten bioinfiltration projects (large raingardens) to clean stormwater runoff from 85 acres of land draining to Perro Creek. The goal is to capture 5.5 lbs. of phosphorous and 1,500 lbs. total suspended solid. In addition to these larger projects, the Middle St. Croix WMO hopes to work with homeowners throughout Bayport to reduce erosion from gravel driveways – a major source of sediment to the creek and river. This is accomplished most easily by directing downspouts away from driveways so that rain runoff flows over lawns instead of dirt and gravel.
On May 12, the St. Croix River Association and City of Bayport will hold a festival in Lakeside Park to celebrate spring and the 50th Anniversary of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The event will include bike demos, food and beverages from Chilkoot Cafe and Cyclery; stand-up paddleboard demos on the beach with St. Croix SUP Co.; free root beer and giveaways from Lift Bridge Beer Company; one-on-one gardening consultations with Washington Conservation District; a clean-up event led by Lift Bridge; and the official dedication of a new bike rack in Lakeside Park. In addition, local residents can learn more about the Perro Creek project and talk with Pollinator Friendly Alliance and St. Croix River Association about other ways to protect water and habitat in the St. Croix Valley. The event will take place from 10am-1pm, with bike rack dedication at 10:30am, “Blue Thumb Planting for Clean Water” mini-presentation at 11:15am, and litter clean-up from 12-1pm.
Learn more at www.stcroixriverassociation.org/events.