SepticSmart Week in Minnesota

Did you know that over 600,000 Minnesota residents and businesses rely on a septic system to treat their wastewater from things like toilets, sinks, and washing machines?

This week (September 14th-20th) is SepticSmart Week in Minnesota, as declared by Governor Tim Walz.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says this week is a good time to revisit the Do’s and Don’ts of septic systems. The two big Do’s are:

  1. Inspect it (at least every 3 years)
  2. Protect it

Check out this guide by the MPCA to learn how to do these things and to learn what not to do.

By properly maintaining your septic system, you can help protect human health and the environment. You can even save money as well, as septic system repairs caused by a lack of understand about how the system works, or simple neglect, can be quite expensive.

Learn how your septic system works at the MPCA’s Healthy Septic Systems website, which also has additional information for homeowners.

Register to Attend the Online Metro Children’s Water Festival

The 23rd annual Metro Children’s Water Festival is FREE and will be offered online this year from Monday, Sept. 28—Thursday, Oct. 1.

This event has always taken place as an in-person field trip at the State Fairgrounds, but this year, it will be online. The purpose of the festival is to educate 4th grade students about water resources and to present ways they can help ensure a future where both the quantity and quality of water resources are protected and managed wisely.  Although education is geared to meet 4th grade standards, water is vital to everyone, and all interested teachers, students, and their caregivers are welcome to participate.

The festival is offering 9 live online classes via Zoom and 9 pre-recorded sessions that are all about 30-minutes long. Live classes will be followed by time for questions. All classes will be posted on YouTube for future viewing.

Details at metrocwf.org.

Well Sealing Cost-Share Opportunity

If you have an old well that you no longer use, you may be eligible for cost-share funding to seal it! Unused/unsealed wells could be direct conduits for pollution to reach our drinking water supply, so it is important to have them sealed by a professional. To qualify for up to 60% cost-share, unused/unsealed wells must be located in a Drinking Water Supply Management Area in Anoka County. Learn more about the program and see if you qualify here: www.anokaswcd.org/well-sealing. Call Kris Larson at (763) 434-2030 x11 for more information.

The above information was submitted by the Anoka Conservation District. 

Tips for a Healthy Lawn

Healthy lawns can lead to healthy water quality. Curious as to how you can best maintain your lawn and how this can improve water quality? Check out this how-to video from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO).

The video contains information on the following tips:

  • Tip #1: Adjust Your Mower Height
  • Tip #2: Mulch Your Grass Clippings
  • Tip #3: Sweep Up Leftovers
  • Tip #4: Water Wisely
  • Tip #5: Consider Turf Alternatives

A few simple changes to the way our lawns are maintained can make a big difference in our water quality.

Click here to see the original post from the MWMO.

Photo from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. 

2020 Anoka County Water Resources Report

The Anoka County Public Health and Environmental Services Department has updated its Water Resources Report, which the department typically updates every 5 years in coordination with the Anoka County Water Resources Management Task Force.

Click here to view the 2020 Anoka County Water Resources Report.

 

Brief History of the Report

Following the passage of the Minnesota Groundwater Protection Act of 1989, which emphasized the need for groundwater management planning and implementation by local government having land use authority, metropolitan counties were encouraged to develop groundwater protection plans through legislation (MN Statute 103B.255) and planning grants. As land use planning and zoning within Anoka County is a function of its municipalities, the County originally chose to write a groundwater report instead of a plan. This report has since evolved to encompass all water resources.

 

The report is planned to be updated again in 2025. Questions about the report can be referred to Abby Shea at Abby.Shea@co.anoka.mn.us.

July 2020 On Point Newsletter

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has published a new issue of the On Point newsletter. MPCA’s On Point newsletter includes news and updates for wastewater discharge permit holders.

The following articles are included in the July 2020 newsletter:

  • Cities, Salt Symposium addressing role of water softeners in Minnesota’s chloride pollution problem
  • MPCA updating chloride variance application process
  • Clean Water Partnership loan program reducing water pollution, one project at a time
  • Rock River site-specific standard reflects current science, benefits city of Luverne
  • 311 wastewater facilities recognized for outstanding permit compliance
  • Compliance tip: Post steps for responding to unauthorized discharges
  • Wastewater operator training and certification
  • eDMR Tips: Electronic water quality submittals
  • Wastewater in the news

Click here to read the newsletter. For more information about MPCA wastewater programs, visit the On Point newsletter webpage. Also check out the MPCA’s Wastewater page.

North & East Metro Groundwater Management Area Update

The North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) advisory team met through an online meeting on May 29th. The following were the agenda items discussed at the meeting:

  • An update on the implementation of the North and East Metro Groundwater Management Area plan
  • A discussion on the Governor’s Executive Orders as they relate to the DNR’s water-related responsibilities
  • An update on the 3M settlement and drinking water supply planning
  • A discussion on 2040 projected water demands using the transient groundwater flow model
  • Summaries of water conversation reporting by public water suppliers in the GWMA
  • A presentation on the City of Woodbury’s irrigation efficiency project

Click here to read the full update from the DNR. The presentations and other materials from the meeting can be found here, on the GWMA’s webpage.

The next meeting date is to be announced, but is planned for November 2020. Meetings are open to the public and an announcement will be posted on both the GWMA’s site and Know the Flow when the date, time, and location have been determined. You can also sign up to receive email updates here.

 

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.

 

Minnesota Groundwater Contamination Atlas

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has published a new tool: the Minnesota Groundwater Contamination Atlas.

“A tool for learning about polluted groundwater at sites around the state”, the atlas allows users to scan the map or utilize a text-based search to find sites by address, zip code, county, municipality, or site name. As of June 2020, when the atlas went live, the tool only shows active state Superfund sites. Data from other sites will be added in future phases.

In addition to viewing mapped groundwater areas of concern, users can read the contamination story of a particular site and download data. The contamination story for each Superfund site contains a summary of the contamination and remediation or clean-up efforts. Specifically, each story addresses:

  • What is the source of the contamination?
  • What is the contaminant?
  • Where is the contaminated groundwater?
  • Are there drinking water impacts? Included in this section is a short narrative and a graphic that explains where drinking water comes from in the area.
  • Is soil or sediment contaminated?
  • Are their vapor concerns?
  • What cleanup work has been done?
  • What contamination remains at the site? A graphic is included for some areas, showing how deep the contamination extends underground.
  • Future actions.

Screenshot from the Minnesota Groundwater Contamination Atlas.

 

MPCA received funding in 2017 from the Minnesota Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund for the purpose of making groundwater data from Superfund sites more accessible to the public and more useful for technical users. This atlas is the result of their 3-year project, supported by technical assistance from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

As stated above, this first phase of the atlas displays only areas of concern from Superfund sites. As additional funding becomes available, MPCA has plans to expand the atlas by integrating additional data from other remediation programs.

Click here to use the atlas and for more information on how the maps of areas of concerns are made.

Limited Re-Opening of Anoka County Well Water Testing

Anoka County Environmental Services is re-opening the well water testing program on a limited basis. Water samples for sanitary analysis (bacteria and nitrates) will be accepted one Monday and Tuesday per month with limited hours. Water samples for other analyses (arsenic, manganese, etc.) will not be accepted at this time. An appointment and pre-payment over the phone will be required. Please see the full details below. The upcoming dates and times for water sample collection will be:

  • Monday, July 27th, 1-4 pm
  • Tuesday, July 28th, 9-11:30 am
  • Monday, August 24th, 1-4 pm
  • Tuesday, August 25th, 9-11:30 am

The drop-off table will be located on the 1st floor of the Anoka County Government Center near the main door.

Below are the criteria for dropping off a sample:

  1. Sample kits (sample collection bottle and blue sampling sheet with instructions) must be obtained ahead of time. No kits will be available on the drop-off days. Kit locations are listed below.
  2. A drop-off appointment must be made by calling ahead and paying in advance with a credit card over the phone. No cash or checks allowed, and no credit cards will be accepted the day of drop-off. Call (763) 324-4260 to make an appointment and pay.
  3. The blue sampling sheet must be completed ahead of time. No pens will be available to use at the drop-off table.
  4. Specific water-related questions can be directed ahead of time to Abby Shea at (763) 324-4207.
  5. Only samples for sanitary analysis (bacteria and nitrates) will be accepted at this time. If other testing is desired, it can be performed at a later date or a private laboratory can be recommended.
  6. Social distancing guidelines must be respected, and masks are required. Rules of the drop-off area must be followed.

Water test kits are currently available at the following locations:

  • Andover City Hall
  • Blaine Public Works (1801 101st Ave NE, Blaine; (763) 785-6165 – please call ahead)
  • Centerville City Hall (in the vestibule)
  • East Bethel City Hall
  • Ham Lake City Hall (call and they will set one out for you: (763) 434-9555)
  • Linwood Township Hall
  • Ramsey City Hall
  • St. Francis City Hall

Feel free to call additional city halls to see if they can provide a water test kit.

Water Your Yard and Garden with the Help of a Rainbarrel

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) has put together a quick guide and how-to video for installing and using a rainbarrel in your yard. You can use rainbarrels to collect rainwater to water your lawn, gardens, plants, and more. Collecting and using rainwater reduces the amount of potable water used for watering. It also helps to reduce the amount of stormwater that runs off of your roof and into your stormdrain, which carries pollutants into our water resources.

 

Click here to read the MWMO’s quick guide on tips and considerations when installing and using a rainbarrel. And see the video below that they published on YouTube, which demonstrates the basics of rainbarrels and the installation process.

 

 

Photo: MWMO, via Clean Water Minnesota. 

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