22 Billion Lbs of Salt Will Do That To You

That's how much chloride is released into the environment annually in Minnesota. The biggest sources (in order) are road deicing salts, synthetic fertilizer, and household water softening. Perhaps it should be no surprise we find them increasing in essentially all Twin Cities streams and rivers.

A just-released study from the Metropolitan Council shows increasing chlorides in 18 Twin Cities streams and rivers they monitored. They looked at data from 1999-2019, including data collected by the Anoka Conservation District. Of 18 streams, 17 have a trend of increasing chlorides. Locally, our Rum River has that trend but thankfully low chloride concentrations so far compared to other streams. Chloride tends to be highest in areas with the highest road density.

A few tips to reduce deicing salt and still have good footing:

  • Shovel first.
  • Use the right amount. Salt works most efficiently (for chemistry reasons) with ~2 inches between salt granules. That means 12 oz. covers a 20 foot driveway or 10 sidewalk squares.
  • Don't salt below 15 degrees. Sodium chloride doesn't work below that temperature.


See the full Metropolitan Council report at https://metrocouncil.org/Wastewater-Water/Services/Water-Quality-Management/Water-Monitoring-Pubs/2022-Chloride-Report.aspx 

  55 Hits

Six Lake George Shorelines Stabilized and Naturalized

The Anoka Conservation District has completed work with six landowners on Lake George to correct shoreline erosion and install native plant buffers. 483 linear feet of shoreline were treated with rock rip rap, coconut fiber biologs, shoreline plantings, or other techniques. The result is 5.9 fewer pounds of phosphorus and 4.8 fewer tons of sediment entering the lake each year.

Lake George water quality is a priority. The lake is heavily used by the public due to a large county park and many homes on its shores, and good water quality. That water quality has been experiencing a slow decline over time. Projects such as these help maintain water quality and also add near-shore habitat that benefits fish and other wildlife. The recently installed projects are further intended to be demonstrations of lake-friendly landscaping for other shoreline homeowners. 

The six project sites were selected from amongst 34 homeowner who expressed interest. Sites were chosen based on degree of erosion, benefit to the lake, and other factors. Funding was from a Watershed Based Implementation Funding grant to the Anoka Conservation District with matching funds from the Upper Rum River Watershed Management Organization and landowners.

  316 Hits

Linwood Lakers Try Out Native Shoreline Plants

Property owners at the Linwood Lake Association annual picnic took home native plants to try in their shoreline landscaping. The plants of 12 species were chosen for their beauty, as well as for providing shoreline stability & habitat.

"Try it, and you'll like it. The first one's free." A free trial can be just what's needed to break through to new customers. At the 2021 & 2022 Linwood Lake Improvement Association annual picnics, the Anoka Conservation District distributed nearly 200 native shoreline plants to be planted all around the lake at 25+ different properties.

Native plants can mean "weeds" to some folks. Or just out of the comfort zone. But the right plant in the right place is beautiful and effective. On shorelines there are a variety of native plants that are the perfect choice– beautiful, strong, and well-adapted to the wet. Good habitat too. They're key to a stable shore and healthy lake.

Thanks to Minnesota Native Landscapes, Inc. who provided the giveaway plants this year. ACD offers technical help and grants for those wanting to do a larger shore stabilization or buffer project.

  244 Hits

Get to Know ACD: Two Truths & A Lie Edition!

Here's our version of a popular kid quiz game. Below are sets of three statements. Can you tell which one is the lie? See answers at the bottom of the page! 

#1:  About the Anoka Conservation District's (ACD) origins…

  • a) ACD began with the purpose of replanting trees lost to the devastating 1939 Anoka tornado.
  • b) We started in 1946 with focus on stemming Dust Bowl era erosion.
  • c) ACD was brought into existence by the voters of Anoka County through a referendum.

#2:  About the Anoka Conservation District (ACD)…

  • d) We're a department of Anoka County that focuses on natural resources issues.
  • e) ACD's elected Board of Supervisors sets the policy and direction of the District and staff work to bring it to fruition.
  • f) Our staff of 12 includes experts on water quality projects, upland habitat restoration, wetlands, and more.

#3:  About ACD's function…

  • a) ACD offers technical and financial incentives to encourage conservation activities and works with willing landowners to make them happen.
  • b) By creating reasonable standards and issuing permits, we are able to stem negative impacts of development.
  • c) We keep our finger on the pulse of our natural resources with an extensive program of monitoring and inventory done in partnership with water management entities.

#4:  About ACD's funding…

  • a) At $0.41 per capita for general services, ACD funding from the county is the lowest funded soil and water conservation district in MN.
  • b) ACD invented, patented, and sells a product that has over $500K in annual sales.
  • c) In 2022 our elected supervisors reduced our tax levy by 5%.

#5: ACD's accomplishments…

  • a) In 2021 we installed 66 projects for water quality and habitat.
  • b) We simultaneously manage 10 different grants that are used for projects.
  • c) Our biggest project in 2021 was nearly ¼ mile of stabilized Mississippi Riverbank.

#6: Collaborations…

  • a) ACD serves as the contracted administrator for three watershed organizations to reduce duplication and coordinate.
  • b) Cities, lake associations, watershed groups, and landowners voluntarily contribute match to help us secure grants for projects of mutual interest.
  • c) We spend a lot of time working with people who are under mandatory permit requirements to do conservation projects.

#7: Stuff we'll help you pay for…

  • a) Our Lawns to Legumes program encourages pollinator habitat. (Legumes are a class of veggies including beans, peas, & clovers).
  • b) Our Green Fields, Blue Water Initiative with the Minnesota Twins will install "smart" irrigation systems on community baseball fields to avoid watering when rain is in the immediate forecast or a game is scheduled to be played.
  • c) Our Septic Fix Up grants help folks in deep crap with repair or replacement a failing septic system. It helps protect lakes and groundwater.

#8: Office life…

  • a) We have "companion ducks" at the office to calm our nerves. When they migrate in winter, staff get pretty edgy. Call during summer.
  • b) We celebrate casual Fridays on Thursdays. When actual Friday arrives, it's a little depressing. Call before Friday.
  • c) Our staff "wellness program" is all about encouraging naps. Life is a race already. Please call after nap time.

ANSWERS

#1: The lie is (a) -- While the 1939 tornado was devastating, it was the Dust Bowl era of drought that prompted a need to connect farmers with practices that were less erosion-prone. We have evolved to include urban and sub-urban conservation practices.

#2: The lie is (a) -- ACD is not an Anoka County department. We are separate, with our own elected supervisors.

#3: The lie is (b) -- We don't have any regulatory authority nor issue permits. We work with willing landowners only.

#4: The lie is (c) -- We don't have tax levy authority. We do receive some funds from the county and grants that originate from taxpayers, but we control none of it.

#5: The lie is (b) -- At any given time we have 20+ different grants totaling over 4 million dollars!

#6: The lie is (c) – We work with willing landowners only. We don't do regulation.

#7: The lie is (b) -- Nice idea, but not yet reality. Consider smart irrigation for your home.

#8: The lie is…all of them. :) 

  342 Hits

Rain Gardens Benefitting the Rum River

Six new rain gardens are being installed this summer in Anoka and Ramsey to benefit the Rum River. The first was highlighted in June. The second is now complete! It is located on Oneida Street in Ramsey.

Each curb-cut rain garden captures water from the neighborhood streets, driveways, roofs and other surfaces. Prior to these projects the stormwater was discharged directly to the Rum River without treatment. Rain gardens are ideal in built-out neighborhoods where space is not available for stormwater ponds or other larger practices. 

Kyle and Jamie Leaf and family at the newly constructed rain garden in their front yard. The Leaf family will own and maintain the rain garden which treats stormwater from 7 acres of their neighborhood.

Funding for two rain gardens is a state Clean Water Fund grant and the Lower Rum River Watershed Management Organization. Funding for the other four is the City of Anoka as part of their 2022 street renewal project. 

  405 Hits