Two problems, one solution

By Madeline Seveland, Carver County Water Management

Of the many problems facing our waters, two of them have a common solution.

The first problem is lake and river pollution caused by stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is rain (or snow) that has fallen on driveways, streets, parking lots, and roofs, and runs across these hard surfaces, washing off and carrying sediment, bacteria, nutrients and other pollutants with it into nearby lakes and rivers.

The second problem is decreasing groundwater supplies. Studies done in the seven county metro area show there are areas where groundwater supplies have greatly decreased from overuse and are at risk for pumping more water out than is being replenished. Fun fact: each year more water runs off your property from rain storms than you use from your tap (for drinking, cleaning, watering, cooking, etc).

There is one solution that would help address both these problems — water reuse systems.

Water reuse systems consist of a container designed to capture stormwater runoff to be saved and used during drier times when water is needed. The most common and smallest type of reuse system is a rain barrel, but other systems include above and below ground cisterns and other types of tanks.

Captured rainwater can be used to irrigate lawns and gardens and is better for plants because it does not contain chlorides or fluorides used in making drinking water safe. Captured water can also be used to wash your car, and in some places, flush toilets. This all adds up to savings on your water bill and conservation of the drinking water supply.

The Carver County Water Management Organization (CCWMO) has partnered with homeowners, agencies and businesses to get more water reuse systems on the ground.

Two homeowners in Chaska installed underground storage tanks in the last couple years collecting and using rain water to keep their gardens watered and healthy, and several residential developments in Chaska and Carver will be installing reuse systems this year and using the water for irrigation. MnDOT installed a water reuse system at its new truck facility (near Highway 212 and Fleet Farm). This facility captures rain and snow melt and uses it to wash the trucks. Most recently, the CCWMO has been working with Independent School District 110 and the city of Waconia to install a large reuse system at Bayview Elementary that will capture runoff from the nearby neighborhoods and use it to irrigate the football and other athletic fields.

All these measures add up to help conserve groundwater supplies and reduce the amount of runoff picking up pollutants and carrying them to our lakes and rivers. If you are interested in a reuse project on your property contact the Carver County Water Management Organization at (952) 361-1810. CCWMO offers financial assistance individuals, groups and business for these and other projects benefiting water quality.


Madeline Seveland is with the Carver County Water Management Organization.