Rice Creek Watershed District

Proving Stormwater Reuse a Possibility

Collecting and reusing stormwater for irrigation is gaining attention. By reducing stormwater pollution runoff directly into creeks, rivers and lakes – we are preserving our swimming, fishing and drinking water resources. Another benefit is to help reduce increased groundwater withdrawal, by wells, for irrigation of lawns, gardens and landscape.

The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) has recently released its Stormwater Reuse for Irrigation Assessment Methodology. The Methodology provides guidelines for locating, installing and operating a stormwater reuse facility at parks, golf courses, schools, businesses and residential developments.

The Oneka Ridge Golf Course and the City of Hugo successfully reused stormwater for irrigation at the golf course. It was part of the Bald Eagle Lake Restoration Project that resulted in the RCWD’s development of the watershed-scale assessment Methodology. The Bald Eagle Lake Restoration Project ultimately won the Minnesota Association of Watershed District’s 2016 Project of the Year.

Irrigation of Parks, Golf Courses, Schools, etc.

The Methodology is a step-by-step, repeatable planning process for identifying sites that would be suitable locations for reuse projects. Technical criteria are used to evaluate the feasibility of locations, and qualitative criteria are used to prioritize those technically feasible sites. The methodology was developed with the intention to be used by others. Qualitative criteria can be modified to meet different community goals.

The RCWD will be holding a workshop for potential users on March 9th for decision makers and technical staff. Individuals interested in this training should contact Beth Carreno (763-398-3073, bcarreno@ricecreek.org).

The Rice Creek Watershed District is committed to building and promoting projects that provide our residents with multiple benefits such as improved water quality, flood protection, and reduced reliance on groundwater for landscape irrigation. RCWD Administrator, Phil Belfiori, stated that this project was significant and timely, “because as interest in water reuse grows so does the need for a way to systematically identify areas that are best suited for these practices.

This Methodology was developed with Houston Engineering Inc. (HEI) serving as the engineering consultants for the project. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) provided funding for the development of the methodology through the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment.

Rain Barrel (image)

Stormwater reuse is as easy a rain barrel.

Nominate your natural resources hero for the 2017 Public Health Award

You can’t separate people and their health from their environment. And those that help protect and manage our natural resources are not only heroes preserving land, wildlife and water in our communities; they are preserving the natural processes that maintain healthy environments and clean water.

Anoka Co 2017 Public Health Award (capture2)

Consider nominating an Anoka County resident or organization for an Anoka County 2017 Public Health Award. Nominations must be submitted to Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services by January 30, 2017. Awards will be announced during Public Health Month (April, 2017).

City of Blaine

Blaine Wellhead Protection Plan is progressing

A Public Information Meeting was held at Blaine City Hall (Wednesday, January 4, 2017) where Part 1 of the Wellhead Protection Plan was discussed.

Blaine is amending its Wellhead Protection Plan for its drinking water supply wells. The Minnesota Department of Health approved the amendment of Part 1 of the city’s plan. Part 1 (of 2 parts) includes information pertaining to:

  1. The delineation of the wellhead protection areas,
  2. The Drinking Water Supply Management Area boundaries, and
  3. An assessment of the vulnerability of the wells and DWSMAs.
Stefan Higgins (Blaine Assistant City Engineer) indicating the Drinking Water Supply Management Area for wells in the northwest quadrant of the City.

Stefan Higgins (Blaine Assistant City Engineer) indicating the Drinking Water Supply Management Area for wells in the northwest quadrant of Blaine.

A complete copy of the Part 1 plan amendment containing the technical information used to delineate the wellhead protection area, drinking water supply management area, and aquifer vulnerability used by City wells is available at Blaine City Hall.

What is wellhead protection? Wellhead Protection is a way to prevent drinking water from becoming contaminated by managing potential sources of pollution in the area which supplies water to the City’s well. Much can be done to prevent pollution, such as the wise use of land and chemicals. Public health is protected and the expense of treating polluted water or drilling a new well is avoided.

What is a wellhead protection area? A wellhead protection area is a zone around a public water supply well managed to keep pollutants from rapidly reaching the community’s water supply.  The area that is managed uses easily identifiable landmarks as boundaries (e.g. streets, property lines, ditches) called the Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA).  The wellhead protection area is based on the minimum time (ten years) for a pollutant to reach the well.

Who’s Impacted?
A wellhead protection area includes hundreds to thousands of properties. Residents and businesses within a wellhead protection area are asked to cooperate with your water supplier to effectively protect our water supply without establishing additional ordinances or regulatory programs.

For more information about Blaine’s Wellhead Protection program contact Stefan Higgins at (763) 717-2722.

MN Master Naturalist Program

Become a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer

Discover the wonders of our natural resources and lead others by becoming a Minnesota Master Naturalist (MMN). Who can become a Minnesota Master Naturalist? Any adult who is curious and enjoys learning about the natural world, shares that knowledge with others, and supports conservation. If you enjoy hiking, bird watching, following tracks, or identifying wildflowers, you’ll love being a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer.

The Minnesota Master Naturalist training courses consists of in-classroom training and field trips. Courses are designed to be a general overview of Minnesota’s three biomes: Big Woods, Big Rivers (BWBR); Prairies and Potholes (PP); North Woods, Great Lakes (NWGL); plus advanced training (ADV). The courses locally available are:

  • Feb. 25th to April 1st, 2017 BWBR – Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (East Bethel, MN) Instructor Caitlin Potter (email). Dr. Potter is the education and outreach coordinator at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. Her background is in wildlife ecology, and she holds a B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology as well as a masters and Ph.D in ecology and evolutionary biology. She studied wildlife and animal behavior all over the world (mostly monkeys in Ethiopia) before finding her true passion doing environmental education! Now, she runs school field trips and public events at CCESR, works with scientists to get their results into the hands of students, and organizes several citizen science projects. The course cost is $275* and includes course manuals and supplies.
  • May 30th to June 13th, 2017 BWBR – Field Biology (Anoka-Ramsey Community College) Instructor Joan McKearnan (email).  The course cost is $275* and includes course manuals and supplies.

*If the course cost is a hardship, please fill out the scholarship application and send (MMN).

Master Naturalist are trained to be stewards of our natural environment and to teach these skills to others.

Master Naturalist are trained to be stewards of our natural environment and to teach these skills to others.

Master Water Stewards

Waterspot on Master Water Stewards

The Master Water Stewards program is a volunteer education and outreach program designed to equip citizens with the knowledge and skills needed to help improve water quality within a community.

Stewards are certified by participating in a broad training curriculum led by experts in the fields of hydrology, stormwater management, water policy, community-based social marketing, landscape assessment, and installation of clean water practices. Classes run from mid-October to mid-April each year but applications are accepted year round. Stewards are sponsored by their local water management organization or municipality and attend classes with a cohort of other prospective Stewards in their region. Participating partner organizations in Anoka County are the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (video 3:19: MWMO 2016 Year in review) and the Rice Creek Watershed District.

At the end of the certification process, all Stewards must complete a capstone project in community leadership and outreach that captures rainfall and allows more clean water to soak into the ground. Stewards then become a point of knowledge and influence in their communities.

Master Water Stewards are volunteering their time for watershed districts and environmental groups, participating in city and local government boards, influencing policy, and changing the health of our waters.  The first Stewards have had dramatic impacts on the quality of their community’s local water resources (masterwaterstewards.org/by-the-numbers).

The Master Water Steward program was developed by Freshwater Society in 2013. Interested volunteers are encouraged to contact the Freshwater Society (masterwaterstewards.org/contact-us) for more information about the program.

Master Water Stewards Ian Lamers & Liz Reiser installed a stormwater treatment train at a Northeast Minneapolis home that include three rain barrels, three rain chains, and a raingarden.

Master Water Stewards Ian Lamers & Liz Reiser installed a stormwater treatment train at a NE Minneapolis home that includes rain barrels, rain chains, and a raingarden.

Anoka County Water Task Force

Tips to reduce salt pollution of streams, lakes and groundwater

How can we maintain water quality of our local lakes, streams, groundwater and drinking water but keep driving conditions safe in the winter? There are no practical alternatives to applying salt to remove ice from roadways, driveway, sidewalks and parking lots. BUT, we can apply less salt through efficient smart salting (S2) strategies. Anoka County and community public works are adopting S2 methods that save money as well as reduce the damage to infrastructure, vehicles, grass/plants, and water supplies.

Residents, businesses and organizations can do their part to prevent salt/chloride pollution by following some simple tips:

  • Shovel (or snow-blow) first. The more snow and ice you remove manually, the less salt you will have to use and the more effective it will be.
  • Work together with neighbors, businesses, schools, churches and non-profits to find ways to reduce salt use in your community. Speaking up starts the process of working together.
  • Know the right temperature. 15 degrees F is too cold for (sodium-chloride) salt. Most salts stop working at this temperature. Use sand instead for traction, but remember that sand does not melt ice.
  • Slow down. Drive for the conditions and make sure to give plow drivers plenty of space to do their work. Consider purchasing winter (snow) tires.
  • Be patient. Salt doesn’t work instantly. Just because you don’t see whitish salt on the road doesn’t mean it hasn’t been applied. These products take time to work.
  • Apply less. More salt does not mean more melting. Use less than 4 pounds of salt per 1,000 square feet. One pound of salt is approximately a heaping 12-ounce coffee mug. Leave about a 3-inch space between granules. Consider purchasing a hand-held spreader to help you apply a consistent amount.
  • Sweep up extra. If salt or sand is visible on dry pavement it is no longer doing any work and will be washed away. Use this salt or sand somewhere else or throw it away.
  • Watch a video, Improved Winter Maintenance produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (including Columbia Heights and Fridley) that shows efficient snow and ice removal.
  • Use a certified Smart Salting contractor. Certified individuals have attended training, passed a test, and agreed to use practices that reduce salt impacts on the environment File (spreadsheet of Smart Salting Level 1 certificate holders). 
  • Be part of the Year of Water Action – Governor Dayton’s initiative to protect the quality of our natural resources. Download and sign the Water Stewardship Pledge!

Did you miss the 2017 Boats of Coon Lake Calendar?


The Coon Lake Improvement Association’s 2017 Boats Of Coon Lake calendar sold out early. But with enough requests (orders) for the calendar you can still get it when and if it is reprinted. To request reprints call Denise (763-434-9761) or Bev (763-434-9811). Proceeds are used to support Coon Lake preservation projects.

Anoka Conservation District

Order Trees and Shrubs Now

The Anoka Conservation District is accepting preorders for the annual Tree and Shrub Sale.  The District offers a wide variety of native stock, including black cherry trees, mixed oak trees, red maple trees, and white pine trees. The trees and shrubs are sold in bare root seedlings or transplants and most are 10″ to 24″ in height. They may be purchased in bundles of ten for $17, or twenty-five for $30 not including tax.  Native prairie seed and tree aids are also available. You do not need to be an Anoka County resident to order.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Anoka Conservation District is now accepting preorders for the annual tree and shrub sale.

The Tree and Shrub Sale website also contains information about the kinds of trees and shrubs to plant in your particular situation along with planting directions.

You may purchase these trees and shrubs by:

  1. Online ordering,
  2. Mail in an Order Form, or
  3. Order by phone (763-434-2030 x10).
Minnesota Geological Survey (logo-102)

Geologic atlas reveals what’s under the surface

Judging from the surface, one might say Anoka County’s geology is simple: ‘its just sand.’ But, beneath the flat sandy surface is a complex arrangement of glacial deposits (e.g. peat, sand, gravel and clay) over equally complex formations of bedrock (e.g. shale, sandstone and dolomite) that can’t be seen. The completed Geologic Atlas of Anoka County helps to reveal what’s under the surface.

One of 87 west-to-east geologic cross-sections of the Quaternary (glacial) deposit that vary widely and fill bedrock valleys with sand, gravel, clay and others deposits.

QUATERNARY STRATIGRAPHY (PLATE 4) One of 87 west-to-east geologic cross-sections (Ramsey-Andover-Ham Lake-Columbus) of the glacial deposits that vary widely and fill bedrock valleys with sand, gravel, clay and other loose materials.

Nine (9) bedrock formations have been identified in which some are groundwater aquifers and others (aquitards) do not provide water to a well. And, some formations – including the Prairie du Chien – Jordan (PDC-JDN) aquifer – are found only in the southern (Fridley and Spring Lake Park) and south-eastern (Blaine and Lino Lakes) parts of Anoka County. The bedrock formations have undergone erosion by glaciers that have created the complex valleys shown in the Atlas.

The thickness of glacial sediments is equal to the depth of land surface elevation to bedrock surface elevation (above sea level). The tan and yellow areas indicate shallow depth to bedrock. Blue and purple areas indicate greater depths to bedrock and bedrock valleys.

BEDROCK TOPOGRAPHY (PLATE 6). The thickness of glacial sediments is equal to the depth of land surface elevation to bedrock surface elevation. The tan and yellow areas indicate shallow depth to bedrock. Blue and purple areas indicate greater depths and bedrock valleys.

The Geologic Atlas is more than just detailed maps of subsurface geologic materials and formations in Anoka County.  Part B (hydrogeology) provides information and analysis of the groundwater resources that are found within the geologic formations beneath the County. Part B helps to answer questions such as: what amounts of water are found in the geologic formations; how sustainable are groundwater resources to to provide for increasing demand; where the water is moving; the sensitivity of groundwater aquifers to pollution and how vulnerable are local drinking water wells to pollution.

FIGURE 23 & 24. Each vertical black line is labeled with the thickness of overbearing fine sediment and pollution sensitivity rating at the base determined from the thickness of water confining materials.

FIGURE 23 & 24. Geologic Atlas of Anoka County, Minnesota, Part B Report

This six-year project to create the Anoka County Geologic Atlas is nearing completion. Part A (geologic maps) were prepared by the Minnesota Geologic Survey. Part B (hydrogeologic maps and report), by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, are undergoing final review.

For more information contact Jamie Schurbon (763/434-2030 ext. 12, Email) at the Anoka Conservation District.

How well is your water?

Well Testing Banner

Water from a home or cabin well should be tested to be certain that it remains safe to drink. Anoka County Environmental Services recommends that private well owners test annually for total coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen. Go to the Environmental Services well water testing web page for information.

A total coliform bacteria test will determine if the well water contains micro-organisms that can cause illness. Symptoms of waterborne diseases may include gastrointestinal illnesses such as severe diarrhea, nausea, and possibly jaundice as well as associated headaches and fatigue.

A nitrate-nitrogen test will determine if a common water pollutant is present in the well that may cause serious health problems for pregnant women and infants. Nitrate levels in Anoka County groundwater are usually less than 1 milligram per liter (mg/L) of nitrate-nitrogen. However, where sources of nitrate such as fertilizers, animal wastes, or human sewage are concentrated near the ground surface, nitrate may seep down – through our sandy soils – polluting groundwater and contaminating nearby drinking water wells. The safe drinking water level for nitrate-nitrogen is 10 mg/L.

Pick up a well water testing kit at the Environmental Services Unit, Suite 600 in the Anoka County Government Center in Anoka or at city/township/county offices: Andover, Bethel, Blaine, Centerville, Columbus, East Bethel, Ham Lake, Lino Lakes, Linwood, Nowthen, Oak Grove, Ramsey, St. Francis, the Anoka Conservation District (1318 McKay Drive NW, Ham Lake) and the Anoka County Extension Service at the Bunker Activities Center (550 Bunker Lake Blvd. NW., Andover).

Anoka County Environmental Services accepts water sample every Monday from 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to Noon. The laboratory charge for coliform bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen analysis is $30. Sample are not accepted on national holidays.

Additional Water Testing for arsenic, lead, fluoride and other drinking water concerns are available. Call the Environmental Services Unit at 763-422-7063 for more information.

A word about arsenic. Approximately 1-in-10 Anoka County private wells tested for arsenic have unsafe levels above 10 micrograms per liter (μg/L). Private well owners are encouraged to test their water for arsenic. If the arsenic concentration in your drinking water is above the safe drinking water standard you will be provided with information to reduce your exposure and protect your family’s health.

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