MCWD offering grants for water-friendly landscaping

by AMANDA SCHWARZE

The Pioneer

Property owners who undertake landscaping projects that promote clean water could have part of the work paid for by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD). The MCWD stretches into two townships and 27 cities, including Independence and Medina.

Raingarden: People who install raingardens on their property could be eligible for a cost-share grant from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Raingardens are bowl-shaped gardens that collect rainwater and infiltrate it into the ground.

Cost share grants are being offered to those who want to help protect clean water by installing rain gardens, shoreline or streambank plantings, pervious concrete driveways or other stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The grants are available to any public or private property located within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, including residential homes, apartments, businesses, schools, or cities. The deadline for most residential projects is May 31.

MCWD Communications Director Telly Mamayek said that $291,786 in grant money will be available this year. Last year, she said, the MCWD issued $80,326 in grants.

According to the MCWD, polluted stormwater runoff is the biggest threat to water quality across the state and nation. In a natural environment, most rainwater soaks into the ground or is captured by trees or other plants.  But in developed areas, rainwater runs off roads, parking lots and rooftops and carries dirt, fertilizer, pesticides and other harmful material into lakes, streams and wetlands.  The poor water quality that results affects recreation, fish and wildlife and reduces property values.

“In a sense all landowners have waterfront property, even if they don’t live on a water body,” noted MCWD Cost Share Specialist Joe Barten in a press release. “You can do your part to prevent polluted rainwater from entering local lakes and streams. We’re hoping these grants are an incentive to take action.”

The cost share programs help property owners make improvements that prevent runoff from occurring. Rain gardens are bowl-shaped gardens that collect rainwater and infiltrate it into the ground. Because they typically involve native plants, they require minimal maintenance and beautify the landscape. Pervious pavement allows rainwater to pass through the material and into a drainage system below. Native shoreline and streambank plantings filter and absorb polluted runoff, prevent erosion by anchoring the soil and deter geese.

Grants for property owners are split into two groups: stormwater BMP and shoreline and streambank stabilization.

Projects that restore shoreline or streambank could be eligible for a grant from the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. Native shoreline and streambank plantings filter and absorb polluted runoff, prevent erosion by anchoring the soil and deter geese. (Photo courtesy of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District)

The residential stormwater BMP grants can go toward the cost of the design, materials and labor for projects such as rain gardens, tree trenches, pervious pavement, green roofs and vegetated swales. Grants will be issued for up to 50 percent of the project’s cost with a cap of $2,500.

The residential stormwater BMP grant is a competitive grant. Applications are due by May 31. The grants will be awarded after a vote by the MCWD Citizens Advisory Committee June 20, Mamayek said.

There is no application deadline for the residential shoreline/streambank project grants, Mamayek said. Eligible projects for those grants include using native plants to stabilize shorelines, streambanks and eroded channels. Costs such as design, materials, labor and two years of maintenance may be covered by the grant funds. Up to 50 percent of a project’s cost can be covered by the grants with a cap of $5,000.

The shoreline and streambank restoration grants and non-residential stormwater BMP grants will be awarded on a monthly basis, Mamayek said.

There is a list of criteria that grant applicants will need to submit to the MCWD, Mamayek said. Among the things they need to provide are photos of the project area, a landscaping plan, specification of methods, schedule, the party responsible for maintaining the project and an itemized cost estimate.

To learn more about the grants or to apply for one, go online to www.minnehahacreek.org/CostShare or contact MCWD Cost Share Specialist Joe Barten by phone at (952) 641-4523 or by e-mail at jbarten@minnehahacreek.org.

 

Compiled by Amanda Schwarze – amanda.schwarze@ecm-inc.com

 
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