Green digest // Greening Brownie

Greening Brownie

Small and secluded Brownie Lake may be the most overlooked link in the Chain of Lakes.

Bryn Mawr’s little body of water will be getting more attention in coming months, as a plan is developed to improve its water quality. Clean-up efforts also will involve Powderhorn Lake and Lake Nokomis, which, like Brownie, both have “excessive levels of phosphorous,” the city reported in September.

Phosphorous contributes to algae growth and can damage aquatic habitats. A study will determine the maximum amounts of phosphorous Powderhorn, Nokomis and Brownie can contain before the pollutant levels impact recreational use of those lakes, a number known by the acronym TMDL (total maximum daily load).

Public input will be sought in developing the plan, a multi-agency effort involving the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the city of Minneapolis and several suburbs. The work is mandated by the federal Clean Water Act, requiring states to set water-quality standards for lake and rivers.

The MPCA keeps a list of the state’s impaired waters and a schedule for setting TMDLs. The agency’s records show Brownie Lake was added to the state’s impaired waters list in 2003.

The first public meeting on Brownie Lake clean-up plans was held in late September, but another chance is coming up Oct. 7. All three lakes will be discussed at the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Lake Nokomis Community Center gym, 2401 Minnehaha Parkway.

Visit the MPCA website for more information on TMDL studies (pca.state.mn.us/water/tmdl).

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Walk to school Oct. 7

Thousands of students in schools across the country were expected to take to the sidewalks Oct. 7 for Walk to School Day.

The event is part of International Walk to School Month, an effort that began in 1994 in Great Britain and expanded to the U.S. in 1997. Within a decade, millions of students from more than 40 countries were walking or biking to school in October, the coordinating organization, iwalk (walktoschool.org), reported.

The campaign aims to strengthen community ties and promote safe non-motorized transit to schools. Organizers also emphasize the health and environmental benefits of walking and bicycling.

Organizers predicted about 5,000 schools in all 50 states would join in this year’s event.

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Expos teach energy conservation

Hennepin County is hosting several fall events to share tips on cheap and easy ways to cut energy use.

The Cool County Green Expos were scheduled for three Hennepin County Library sites, including noon–3 p.m. Oct. 17 at 2727 E. Lake St. (the only expo planned in Minneapolis). Admission is free.

Xcel Energy will have staff at the expos to demonstrate their Power Check Energy Meters. The meters plug into a standard 120-volt home appliance and record data on voltage, electricity consumption and the energy costs.

That data can be downloaded into a home computer using a USB cord, which is included in the kit along with instructions. Power Check Energy Meters were made available for checkout from Hennepin County Library sites Oct. 1.

Presenters at the Minneapolis expo also will include representatives from the Green Institute and its ReUse program, who plan to share tips on cutting home energy costs.

Twin Cities Bike Walk Ambassadors will talk about bike safety, and a Hennepin County Master Gardener will share tips on organic composting.

The expos are part of the Cool County Initiative. Hennepin County set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by the year 2050.

Along those lines, the county hosted a Spotlight Conversation on Climate Change last Earth Day, one of 10 such events held across the country. The conversation led to a report on county efforts to combat climate change, which can be found on the Hennepin County website (co.hennepin.mn.us).

The event gathered 80 local experts to discuss local efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and was sponsored by ICLEI, an international association of local governments promoting sustainability efforts.

The report identifies key actions the county can take in nine different areas, including increased energy conservation, greater use of renewable energy and the promotion of green jobs.

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.