Urban incentives program leads to best management practices

In 2015, the Chisago SWCD was awarded a 4-year Clean Water Fund Targeted Watershed grant for the Chisago Lakes Chain of Lakes Watershed. The purpose of the grant is to implement high priority best management practices to reduce phosphorus and sediment loading to the lakes within the Chisago Lakes Chain. One portion of the grant provides incentives to our local conservation partners to try new or different practices and two different urban practices are included in this program, each with contracts that extend through 2018. Lindstrom has taken advantage of the Enhanced Street Sweeping program, and Center City is implementing the Inlet Protection program.
The Enhanced Street Sweeping program aims to add miles of street sweeping on city streets where there is more than average tree cover, large sediment deposits, or heavy grass clippings and other debris. In the first run of the program this fall, Lindstrom added 11 miles to their sweeping regime. Over these 11 miles, an astonishing 21,200 pounds (10.6 tons) of debris that would otherwise have washed directly into area lakes was collected. When debris like this enters the water, it breaks down into basic nutrients, contributing more phosphorus than the lake can handle. Excess phosphorus produces algae blooms that reduce the usability of the lake and can lead to biological effects, like fish kills. The SWCD is lucky to have an excellent partner in Lindstrom, and we can’t wait to see what more street sweeping will accomplish in 2017 and 2018.
Center City has passed a motion to work with the SWCD to purchase inlet protection bags to catch road sediment and debris under the catch basin grate. This practice will be used in highly impervious areas where other BMPs would be too costly to implement. Center City will be in charge of maintenance on these bags, which is periodic emptying, and will be able to calculate the amount of sediment captured in the bags on a monthly basis. The SWCD can translate the amount of sediment to the number of pounds of phosphorus that is being kept out of the lakes (one ton of sediment carries on average a pound of phosphorus). We expect that the amount of sediment captured in these bags will be impressive, and will help us prove that this is an efficient practice for cost-per-pound of sediment removal, especially in areas where other options are limited. Center City sees this as a great opportunity to work in some extra locations where other practices have been ruled out for various reasons (cost, feasibility, etc.).
The SWCD is excited to incorporate these “new to us” practices into our toolbox of urban BMPs. Street sweeping and inlet protection are able to provide good bang-for-the-buck pollutant removal in tough situations. A huge thank you goes out to our awesome City partners — we couldn’t do it without you!

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