Green report

Despite drought, water quality steady in 2007

If you’re looking to take a dip in Lake Calhoun or Lake Harriet this summer, have at it.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District’s lake-monitoring program released its grades for 2007, and it appears little has changed from 2006.

Lake Calhoun dropped to an A- from an A, while Lake Harriet rose to an A- from a B+. The Lake of the Isles held steady at a C. Grades are based on water clarity, nutrient levels and algae growth during the open water season, according to a news release from the district.

Because of below-average rainfall around this time last year, the results came as a surprise to Uadi Singh, the district’s water quality specialist.

“Typically, we would expect water quality … to go down in a drought-type situation,” Singh said in the release. But that wasn’t the case this year, a fact he said could be linked to “unprecedented rainfall” during August and
September.

Lakes in the A grade range have clear water and are suitable for recreational activities; B-quality lakes are considered good for recreational use but could suffer from algae growth before the end of the season. Lakes stamped with an F have severe algae problems and aren’t recommended for recreational use.

For grades dating back to 1998, go to www.minnehahacreek.org/wq_report_cards.php.

Public input sought on stormwater-pollution prevention program

The Hennepin County Transportation Department wants to hear from the public on its stormwater-pollution prevention program.

An informal public meeting is set for 5–6:30 p.m. May 27 at the county’s Public Works Facility, 1600 Prairie Drive, Medina.

According to a news release, the county is seeking comment on the effectiveness of the program, which is nationally required to ensure minimized discharge of pollutants from the county’s storm sewer system.

For a look at the program, go to www.hennepin.us, call 596-0300 or go to the County Board Clerk’s office at the Government Center, 300 S. 6th St.

Green Carpet Film Festival looking for video entrants

Linden Hills Power and Light is hoping to combine the glamour of film with the love of the environment with a Green Carpet Film Festival. And here’s the best part: They’re not looking to Hollywood for their videos — they want them from the public.

To get people involved, the group has created a contest wherein entrants could walk away with as much as $500. Here are a few basic rules:

Submissions should promote the Minnesota Energy Challenge, focus on the benefits of recycling organic material or discuss anaerobic digestion.

The videos should be between 30 seconds and two minutes in length.

If the video focuses on the Energy Challenge — which can be signed up for at mnenergychallenge.com — use the video to say how much energy you saved.

Don’t use any copyrighted material; it all has to be entirely original.

Entries are due by Sept. 1 and will be judged by WCCO anchors Amelia Santaniello and Frank Vascellaro, Southwest Journal editor Sarah McKenzie and explorer/environmentalist Will Steger. Winners will have their videos posted on YouTube and on the websites of Linden Hills Power and Light and the Southwest Journal.

Power and Light’s Tom Braun said the group still is working to lock down a venue but that the festival will be held sometime in the early fall, most likely in September.

Complete rules and entry forms can be found at lhpowerandlight.com or by calling 285-6557.

Police introduce zero-gas-emission vehicles

At a May 6 news conference, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) introduced a new way for its officers to get around: clean-energy personal vehicles.

The three-wheeled scooter look-alikes, which cost about $10,000 each, can be used indoors and outdoors, MPD 1st Precinct Insp. Janeé Harteau said at the conference. The Department already has two and is looking to secure four more.

According to manufacturer T3 Motion’s website, the vehicles are simple to control, can travel as fast as 25 mph and, because riders are elevated about 9 inches off the ground, allow extra visibility in crowds.

They’re also energy-efficient: The T3 Motion website said the vehicles can be charged in three to four hours and are equipped with LED (light-emitting diode) lighting. The daily cost to operate, according to the site, is less than 10 cents.

Reach Cristof Traudes at ctraudes@mnpubs.com

Green report

Mayors unveil plan to bolster Twin Cities’ green economy

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman unveiled a new study, “Making It Green in Minneapolis Saint Paul,” on Earth Day, April 22, a plan that looks at ways the Twin Cities can take advantage of three green manufacturing sectors.

Highlights of the report include:

— The market for green products is expected to see significant growth with demand for green products of all types expected to jump 100 percent in three years.

— Minneapolis and St. Paul have strengths in green manufacturing sectors, particularly in green building, transportation and renewable energy.

— The Twin Cities is already recognized as a national leader in promoting progressive green initiatives.

— The “Making It Green” campaign will focus on marketing the region’s existing strengths to attract more green businesses. The green manufacturing/business market is estimated to be a $229 billion market sector, according to the study.

The “Making It Green” report is collaboration among Rybak, Coleman and the Blue-Green Alliance, a national partnership of the Sierra Club and the United Steel Workers. The report recommends that the mayors and city councils in Minneapolis and St. Paul do the following to maintain an edge in the green economy: 1) Market aggressively; 2) Realign the cities’ economic tools to focus on green “industries of the future’; 3) Grow markets for local green manufacturers; 4) Encourage the creation of state policies and incentives to encourage green job growth; and 5) Encourage collaboration among Minneapolis and St. Paul city leaders with a Mayors’ Green Manufacturing Development Team.

20th anniversary of Sculpture Garden

The Walker Art Center is kicking off a summer-long celebration of the Sculpture Garden’s 20th anniversary on May 24 with two outdoor exhibits — an artist-designed mini golf course and “Design for the Other 90%,” which showcases innovative and affordable design solutions for poor communities around the world.

The 11-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, known for its iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, opened in 1988. Before it became the celebrated outdoor park it is today, it served as a practice field for the U.S. Army Reserve drill team and was home to the local Armory.

The mini golf course will be open through Sept. 7. It features two seven-hole courses created by local designers. Highlights include a hole featuring a 12-foot Paul Bunyon and one featuring a replica of the “island of plastic,” the massive collection of floating waste in the Pacific Ocean. Fees range from $4–$8 to play. The mini golf hours are Wednesday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–8 p.m.

The “Design for the Other 90%” exhibit runs through Labor Day. Items that will be on display include cleaner-burning sugarcane charcoal, a solar-power battery for a hearing aid and a $100 laptop computer.  

Water main refurbishing

City leaders often boast about the high quality of Minneapolis tap water, saying its some of the best in the nation.

To ensure its quality, city crews have started cleaning and lining about 10 miles of city water mains at six sites, including three in Southwest:

— Streets north of Minnehaha Creek, including W. 52nd Street, W. 53rd Street, Brookwood Terrace and Queen, Sheridan, Thomas, Upton and Vincent avenues south in Fulton.

— Lyndale Avenue South from 38th Street to Minnehaha Creek.

— West Lake Street from Blaisdell to Harriet avenues.

The city’s water main system includes about 1,000 miles of pipes, according to a city news release. About three-fourths of the pipes are cast iron and collect mineral deposits that discolor water and decrease the water volume.

Crews will scrape off the mineral deposits built up in pipes at the six sites. They will also add a cement lining designed to prevent future buildup.

To view maps of the water main projects, go to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/water and click on “water main cleaning and lining.”

Green building website

The city has launched a new website devoted to helping residents find green building options for their homes or businesses.

If you visit the site — www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mdr/GreenBuildingOptions_home.asp — you’ll find a cross-section of a home, along with 23 links to items designed to make your homes more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The site has tips on solar power, high-efficiency windows, rain gardens and lighting, among a whole host of other items.

Click on the first item on solar power and you find the following passage:

“Solar panels for heating water do work in Minnesota. It’s a good idea to hire an engineer to design your system because you may need to structurally reinforce your building before adding solar panels — make sure to calculate the added wind forces. For a Minnesota example, check out the Como neighborhood solar project. If building an addition or large remodeling project try to incorporate passive solar into the design.

Photovoltaics produce electricity from solar power.”

The site also includes links to information about permits, recycling and several other sustainability/green resources.

Reach Sarah McKenzie at smckenzie@mnpubs.com.