Winter 2021 MN Stormwater News

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) distributes a quarterly newsletter called “MN Stormwater News”. The Winter 2021 edition of the newsletter was published on February 11th.

Some important dates included in the newsletter:

  • MS4 permit applications for the new MS4 General Permit are due April 15th.
  • Applications from eligible organizations interested in hosting Minnesota GreenCorps members are due by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 16th.

Below are the articles included in the Winter 2021 edition of MN Stormwater News:

  • MS4 permit applications due April 15, 2021!
  • Common CSW (construction stormwater) permit application mistakes
  • The problem of dissolved phosphorus
  • Importance of vegetation for stormwater
  • MPCA stormwater research
  • Apply to host a GreenCorps member
  • 2021 Smart Salting training

Click here to read the full newsletter.

The article about Smart Salting training does not list any specific dates, but the MPCA sent out a separate email with upcoming Smart Salting Certification training opportunities:

  • February 24th: Smart Salting for Parking Lots & Sidewalks Online Certification Training (intended audience: private maintenance companies, city parks, hospitals, and colleges)
  • March 2nd: Level 2 (SSAt) Online Certification Training (intended audience: winter maintenance leadership, public works managers, supervisors, business owners, superintendents, and other lead staff)
  • March 4th: Smart Salting for Roads Online Certification Training (intended audience: city, county, or state plow drivers)

Be sure to visit the MPCA’s Smart Salting training calendar for all upcoming trainings and to register. Click here to read the full email from MPCA for more information.

Photo: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

How to Mitigate Stubborn Sidewalk Ice in Extreme Cold Temperatures – MWMO

As we continue to experience below zero daily high temperatures, it is important to remember that salt and other deicing products are not effective in these extreme low temperatures. The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) published a blog post earlier this week with advice on how to take care of stubborn sidewalk ice during these times.

Click here to read the post, which includes tools and techniques you can use and a video demonstrating how to use an ice chisel to remove ice and compacted snow. The post also includes information why salt is bad for waterbodies, along with an important reminder that there are no environmentally friendly ice-melt products, despite some manufacturers’ claims.

Photo: Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.

New Water Talk Newsletter Available

A new edition of the Water Talk newsletter was recently published by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on January 26th. Water Talk is issued 4 to 6 times per year, or approximately quarterly, and features updates on floodplain program news, funding, projects, events, and learning resources for local governments and others involved in floodplain and shoreland management. Find previous issues of Water Talk and learn more about the DNR’s floodplain program on their website.

The following topics addressed in the newsletter may be of particular interest to Know the Flow readers:

  • The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Conference is going virtual for 2021 (May 9-13). Scholarships are available for local officials to attend the conference. Click here to read the article.
  • Twin Cities Mississippi River HUC8 (includes a portion of Anoka County) – Local Official Flood Risk Review Meetings (click here for the full list):
    • Rice Creek Watershed District – 3/11/2021
    • Coon Creek Watershed District – 3/25/2021

There is a lot of other great content as well! Be sure to check out the full newsletter here. Below are all of the articles included in the January 2021 edition:

  • Register for CHAOS Meeting – Jan. 27, 1–2:30 PM
  • Sixth Time’s a Charm – Minnesota Legislature passes a record bonding bill
  • ASFPM Conference Going Virtual – May 9-13, 2021
  • Clearwater Creek (Itasca County) Road Crossing Stabilization Project
  • One Watershed One Plan Explained (in videos)
  • Executive Order 13690 Reinstated (Involves Requirements for Federally Funded Projects)
  • eLOMA: A Collaborative Tool for Licensed Professionals, Communities and FEMA
  • Elevation Certificate Video Series (by NFIP/CRS Program)
  • Trainings for NE Part of State: (1) Stream Crossings & (2) Culvert Inventory Tool
  • FEMA Map Status Listing

Updates from the Minnesota Clean Water Council

The Clean Water Council was created through the Clean Water Legacy Act (Minnesota Statutes Chapter 114D), which was signed into law on June 2nd, 2006. The Council’s role is to advise the Legislature and the Governor on the administration and implementation of the Clean Water Legacy Act. A large part of this work is establishing budget recommendations for how Clean Water Fund dollars should be used. The Council also includes policies for clean water and progress on Clean Water Fund activities in their Biennial Report.

Included in this post:

  • BWSR: Showing Clean Water Funds at Work
  • Smart Salting Update
  • Project Priority Lists – Intended Use Plans
  • New Legislative Report on Septic Systems

BWSR: Showing Clean Water Funds at Work

A new page on the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) website called Your Clean Water Funds at Work was published this week. The page showcases a selection of Clean Water Fund stories and outcomes, showing how the Clean Water Fund is making a difference in communities across the state, including in and around Anoka County. Included on the page are a variety of articles and videos, with a mini-map next to each story on the main page to quickly identify the area of the state benefiting from a particular project. These stories provide a closer look at the farm families, local governments, and many stakeholders who leverage the Clean Water Fund to work towards goals of increased water quality and high value conservation. Click here to visit the webpage.

Smart Salting Update

A large initiative that uses the Clean Water Fund is the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Smart Salting program. The MPCA sent their most recent Minnesota Smart Salting Update bulletin out yesterday morning. Included in the update are the following topics:

  • 2021 MPCA Smart Salting Certification Trainings
  • New MPCA Smart Salting Training promotional video
  • Need help with chloride reduction efforts? Consider a GreenCorps member
  • Save the Date! Salt Symposium in August

For more information on these topics, click here to read the bulletin.

Project Priority Lists – Intended Use Plans

An announcement was posted in a recent edition of the weekly Clean Water Council Update that submissions are currently being accepted to place public wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure improvement projects on the 2022 Project Priority Lists (PPL) and Intended Use Plans (IUP) for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). Projects must be listed on the appropriate PPL as the first step to be eligible for the SRFs or Clean Water Legacy Fund programs. System owners must request that their projects be placed on the appropriate 2022 IUP if they expect to be ready for construction and are seeking SRF financing in state fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022). Click here for more information, deadlines (coming up as soon as March 5th), and submission instructions.

New Legislative Report on Septic Systems

The MPCA has been distributing money from the Minnesota Clean Water Fund (CWF) for subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS) purposes for 9 years, and these CWF appropriations are divided into 3 grant opportunities for which county SSTS programs are eligible: 1) SSTS Base Grants; 2) SSTS Low-Income Grants; 3) SSTS Incentive Grants. Additionally, a small amount of CWF money is made available each year to help counties pay for advances inspection and design work required by certain types of SSTS projects. The MPCA recently submitted a report to the Legislature on CWF appropriations for SSTS for fiscal years 2013-2021. You can read the report on this page (report is entitled “Clean Water Fund appropriations for subsurface sewage treatment (SSTS)”).

Learn more about the Clean Water Council and the Clean Water Fund on the Clean Water Council webpage.

Reminder: Well Sealing Cost-Share Opportunity

The Anoka Conservation District (ACD) is still looking for eligible landowners wanting to seal their unused wells!

ACD has been awarded grants through the Clean Water Fund to establish their Abandoned Well Sealing Cost-Share Program, which helps landowners with the cost of sealing unused wells on their property. Wells located in a Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) in Anoka County can qualify for up to 60% cost share.

Why seal unused wells? Unused/unsealed wells can serve as direct conduits for pollution from the surface to reach our aquifers and therefore our drinking water supplies. It is very important for these wells to be sealed by a professional. Cost can be a barrier for landowners to seal their unused wells, so this is a great opportunity from the ACD! See the video at the end of this post to learn more about sealing unused wells.

DWSMAs are particularly vulnerable areas of groundwater, as they are the areas directly surrounding a public water supply well. Don’t know if your unused well is in a DWSMA? Check out the map below for a broad view, or click here to view an interactive map. Otherwise, call Kris Larson with the ACD at (763) 434-2030 x11 to help determine if you are eligible or for more information. If you received a postcard from ACD, your property already qualifies!

Visit the program website at www.anokaswcd.org/well-sealing for more information and for a step-by-step guide to how the program works. It is important that you wait to receive a cost-share approval letter from ACD before you seal your well. Funding may not be applied retroactively to wells that have already been sealed.

Upcoming Winter Maintenance Training for All Audiences

Whether you are an MS4 permittee, a homeowner, or a business owner, there are upcoming training and workshop opportunities for winter maintenance, provided by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA):

  • Mini Maintenance Workshops: Managing Snow and Ice – February 1st and February 3rd
  • Level 2 Online Certification Training – March 2nd and April 15th

For homeowners, business owners, and more:

The upcoming Mini Maintenance Workshops are the same workshop as those held in December of 2020, but in case you missed it, the MWMO will be hosting two more:

Both workshops are the same, so choose the one that works best for your schedule. The workshops will be on Zoom and are free, but registration is required. Click the workshop you want to attend from the list above to register, or go to the MWMO’s Upcoming Events page.

Workshop description:

“With more snow on the way before spring arrives, it’s not too late to consider how you can manage snow and ice while using less salt.

Salt is an important tool in winter safety, but it also permanently pollutes our rivers, lakes, and streams. Learn ways to prevent slippery sidewalks using methods that reduce pollution in local waterbodies for your home, community building, or office with MWMO staff in this brief Zoom workshop!”

Unable to attend? Learn more about managing now and ice on the MWMO’s Snow and Ice Removal resource page.

For MS4 permittees:

Although the upcoming MPCA Smart Salting for Parking Lots & Sidewalks Certification Training on February 9th is full, MS4 permittees can use an upcoming Level 2 Online Certification Training to help meet their winter operations assessment requirement if they are subject to a chloride TMDL. Level 2 is a certification for public and private organizations to help you assess your salt use and take steps to minimize it. Included in the training is how to use the Smart Salting Assessment tool (SSAt).

There are two upcoming Level 2 training sessions:

  • Tuesday, March 2nd from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm, hosted online by the MPCA
  • Thursday, April 15th from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm, hosted online by the MPCA

There is no cost to register for these training sessions. You can also earn your Level 2 certification through use of the online tool directly. Learn more on the MPCA’s Smart Salting training website.

Photo from MWMO.

Recent Local Updates

Three local updates were recently published, including an announcement of a free watershed PREP class for educators to use, an update on the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area, and the January 2021 Mississippi Watershed Management Organization newsletter. See below for brief descriptions of these updates and links to learn more!

The West Metro Watershed Alliance (WMWA) has created a created a video to replace their traditional in-classroom lesson “What is a Watershed?”. The video is called Watershed PREP, which is the name of the educational outreach initiative of the WMWA. The video is free for teachers to use in their classrooms, but the WMWA asks that they use their contact form to let them know the name of the school and how many students watched the video for tracking purposes. Learn more here!

The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area (GWMA)* advisory group met back on November 13th, 2020, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently sent out an update on the GWMA last week. The update discusses highlights from the last meeting including reflections on the GWMA’s accomplishments, water supply planning in the east metro, the Project 1007 investigation of PFAS, and looking ahead to the next steps for the GWMA. Read the full update here.

Lastly, the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) sent out their January 2021 newsletter last week. This year, the MWMO will be switching from a quarterly newsletter to a monthly newsletter. Many topics are discussed in the newsletter, including a project update on the Columbia Golf Course and Park Stormwater BMPs, Stewardship Fund Grant changes and application deadlines announced, upcoming professional trainings, the MAWD award for MWMO’s Sculpture Garden video, eco-friendly winter yard care tips, and the Watershed Management Plan update. Read the full newsletter here. Learn more about the MWMO on their website.

*The DNR has designated an area in the north and east portions of the metro region as the North & East Metro Groundwater Management Area (GWMA), which includes Washington and Ramsey counties, along with portions of Anoka and Hennepin counties. The Anoka County communities in this GWMA are Blaine, Centerville, Circle Pines, Columbia Heights, Columbus, Fridley, Hilltop, Lexington, Lino Lakes, and Spring Lake Park. The designation as a GWMA “allows a more comprehensive and focused approach to ensuring that groundwater supplies remain adequate to meet human needs, while protecting lakes, streams and wetlands”. For more information on the GWMA, click here to view it’s website.

New MS4 Training Videos

Municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permittees are required to provide training for their staff on a variety of topics related to stormwater and pollution prevention.

The Washington Conservation district has published a series of 11 short videos that can be shared with staff or incorporated into staff meetings or training workshops. One option could be to watch one video per month as part of an annual training plan.

The playlist of videos can be found here. Or, individual videos can be accessed by clicking the title of the video you are interested in from the list below. Other community partners or the general public may find these videos interesting as well!

January 2021 SSTS Bulletin

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) published the January 2021 SSTS Bulletin this week. This quarterly newsletter includes subsurface sewage treatment system news and notes for local governments, septic system professionals, homeowners, and others that are interested.

All articles in this edition of the bulletin are listed below, but of particular interest may be the SSTS rule changes that became effective on January 11th. The rule modifications can be broken down into 3 main changes: 1) SDS permit requirements, 2) flow equalization, and 3) existing system tank inspections. Be sure to read the article for more information.

Also of note:

  • An important discussion on proper maintenance
  • Tank fee process – tank fee forms were mailed in early December to every SSTS installation business that held a license for at least 1 day in 2020 and must be submitted to the MPCA by the end of January
  • 2020 SSTS Annual Report – these were sent to local SSTS programs on December 10th and are due back to the MPCA by February 1st

All articles in the January 2021 edition of the SSTS Bulletin:

  • SSTS rule changes effective Jan. 11
  • An important discussion on proper maintenance
  • Tank fee process
  • MPCA SSTS staff update
  • 2021 MPCA talking tour, mini pumper courses cancelled
  • 2020 SSTS Annual Report
  • Fish Cleaning Shacks. Do they produce sewage?
  • Have a story idea or a topic you’d like to learn more about? Let us know

Click here to read the bulletin.

Hold the Salt to Protect Minnesota Water

Minnesotans love their lakes, rivers, and other bodies of water, but we’ve got a growing problem with salt pollution. Excess salt (chlorides) comes primarily from three sources:

  1. Road salt
  2. Water softeners
  3. Fertilizer, manure, and dust suppressant

Salty water threatens fish and other aquatic life. Chloride can also get into our groundwater, so water supplies that come from surface water and groundwater are impacted. One teaspoon of salt is enough to permanently pollute 5 gallons of water, and once it’s in the water, there is no easy way to remove it.

So, what can you do? … Yes, YOU can have an impact!

The Washington County Department of Public Health and Environment, in partnership with the East Metro Water Resources Education Program and the Washington Conservation District, produced a short, fun video that explains the problem with easy-to-understand cartoon graphics and offers suggestions on what the general public can do to help protect Minnesota water.

Check out the video by clicking here, or clicking on the video below!

Learn more about salt in Minnesota waters at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Chloride 101 website.

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