As reported in this paper and elsewhere, the City of
The proposed vegetated buffer in the shoreland zone was intended to improve water quality because vegetated buffers can reduce pollution in runoff compared to “unbuffered” areas. While this is technically true, closer examination reveals this concept was not well-conceived.
Simply, as proposed, the ordinance was a solution in search of a problem.
First of all, vegetated buffers remove certain kinds of pollution differently. For example, suspended sediments can be removed very effectively, but phosphorus is not removed effectively. Suspended sediments are not normally an issue in residential lakeshore properties and suspended sediments are not an issue in
Second, what is the water quality problem? Gray’s Bay, the portion of
Third, the proposed buffer requirement was negotiated as a trade-off to allow increased hard surface coverage in the shoreland zone. This is a bad trade-off for water quality. Hard or impervious surfaces do not allow rainfall to penetrate so it instead runs off. As more water runs off, its energy and erosive capacity increases and it tends to pick up and carry more pollution. This is especially critical in the shoreland zone.
Finally, the proposed buffers required the planting of “required” vegetation and certain maintenance prohibitions, such as no mowing or fertilizer use. However, this is a simplistic approach that is more for show than for function. We can do better.
The Lake Minnetonka Association recommends that lakeshore owners consider lakescaping as a way to protect their lakeshore. Specifically, we recommend:
“Lakescaping is simple landscaping on the lakeshore, providing a more natural alternative to structural or artificial shore landscaping and erosion control. Lakescaping can benefit
There are important differences between this approach and the City of
We feel, for those who value and appreciate this lakeshore experience, the costs and effort are worthwhile. But, we also feel this is an enhancement, and not a requirement.
The City of