MCWD plans for Minnetrista rain gardens

By Blaze Fugina Community Editor

In August, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District will install rain gardens outside of five Minnetrista homes in order to help reduce pollution in Saunders Lake.

The plan, which was approved by the Minnetrista City Council at their June 4 meeting, is to install five rain gardens at properties along Basswood Drive and Walnut Drive. These proposed gardens will be an average size between 150 and 200 square feet, and they will be installed in the right-of-way area between the street and properties.

The plan for the MCWD is to not only cut down on pollution, but also to teach the community more about rain gardens. MCWD Director of Communications Telly Mamayek said they hope more people decide to construct rain gardens on their properties.

"One of the main goals is to provide the community with information about how to reduce pollution into area lakes and streams," said Mamayek.

According to the MCWD website, "A rain garden is a landscaping feature that uses native perennial plants to help manage storm water runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs, sidewalks and parking lots."

The rain gardens in Minnetrista are being planned to stop some phosphorus and sediment from making its way to Lake Saunders through storm drains. Mamayek said the MCWD is hoping that each rain garden will stop a pound of phosphorus from entering the lake.

"That really is magnified," she said. "When there are a lot of rain gardens in a community, it can make a big impact."

The plan for the Minnetrista rain gardens is to have the MCWD carry out installation. According to Minnetrista council documents, this is an estimated cost of at least $1,000.

Once the rain gardens are in place the MCWD will take care of them for three years, and afterwards the local Home Owners Association will be responsible for upkeep. Minnetrista is financially responsible for the gardens only if they are somehow damaged.

Mamayek said that the local Home Owners Association was able to help make decisions of what the design for the gardens is and what plants are used.

"Water quality will increase if people adopt these practices," she said. "The city will be cutting away part of the curb near the garden, and rain water will fall down the curb into the garden."

Among the storm water debris that rain gardens can help to collect is grass clippings, sediment, sand, chemicals and pet waste. This all is collected into the garden rather than flowing into storm drains to end up in lakes and streams.

Mamayek said that the MCWD is eager for the opportunity to demonstrate the use of rain gardens to the community.

"We are looking forward to showing the benefits of rain gardens," she said.

The MCWD plans on installing the gardens in late August.