Friday, August 19, 2011

Community Clean-Up for Water Quality

Like many of you, I’ve read Dick Osgood’s excellent postings on the problems facing Lake Minnetonka. Invasive species like milfoil choke the lake, and zebra mussels have been introduced. The options for solving the problem of invasives are complex, confusing, expensive and highly regulated. In addition to the invasive species that trouble Lake Minnetonka’s waters is the water that runs from the streets, parking lots and rooftops into the lake. Runoff carries pollutants that feed algae, turning areas of the lake green and smelly in the summer. Among the areas affected are Halsteds Bay, Stubbs Bay, West Arm and Jennings Bay on Lake Minnetonka. Fortunately, every one of us can play a role in preventing this kind of pollution from reaching the lake.

Loose soil, leaves, grass clippings and other organic materials in our storm drains play a role in why Lake Minnetonka turns green with algae. By sweeping regularly, most cities and towns do an admirable job of keeping their streets clean. But city governments can’t do it alone.

The Freshwater Society and our partner, the Friends of the Minnesota Valley, offer a program that helps you get involved in protecting healthy waters, Community Clean-Ups for Water Quality. Locally-led groups of volunteers, rake, sweep, bag and remove loose dirt and leaves blocking sewer grates on city streets, and compost the material to prevent pollutants such as phosphorus from entering the lake.

Depending on the mix of materials, for every five bags (100 pounds) of soil, leaves and other organic debris you collect, your lake association, community group, scout troop or church group can prevent up to a pound of phosphorus from entering your local lake or river. Each pound of phosphorus can cause the growth of up to 500 pounds of algae, and every little bit helps. This fall, the Freshwater Society will be working with groups throughout the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District to sponsor Community Clean-ups for Water Quality.

The Freshwater Society is looking for neighborhood groups, churches, Scout troops and other community organizations in the Lake Minnetonka area who are interested in organizing a Community Clean-Up for Water Quality this fall. Clean-Ups typically happen in late October, after the leaves fall and before the snows begin. It’s a great community service project, simple and effective. Get involved and learn how you can be part of keeping Lake Minnetonka healthy and clean.

We have assembled a toolkit to help you implement a Community Clean-Up for Water Quality in your area. For more information on Community Cleanups for Water Quality, or to download the Toolkit, visit our website-

For more information, or to set up a cleanup in your neighborhood, contact:
Peggy Knapp

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