Green digest: Watershed district offers cost-share grants

Watershed district offers cost-share grants

Property owners in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, which includes most of Southwest, can now apply for grants to help pay for projects that protect local water resources.

Those projects could include the installation of rain gardens or pervious pavers, eligible for grants of up to 50 percent of total project costs under the district’s Stormwater BMP (or “best management practices”) Cost Share program. The district’s Shoreline and Streambank Stabilization Cost Share grants will cover up to 50 percent of the cost of adding native plant borders to property near area lakes and waterways.

Program specialist Aldis Kurmis said those were only examples of the types of projects the grant program was designed to encourage.

“One of the criteria is innovation, so we’re open to hearing peoples’ ideas, to hear if they’re feasible,” Kurmis said.

For instance: Adding a rain barrel won’t qualify you for a grant, but the district might contribute toward the installation of an underground cistern designed to capture rain water for irrigation on your property.

Stormwater BMP Cost Share grants are open to all property owners in the district, not just those right on the water. Grants for residential projects are capped at $2,500, but the district will consider higher funding amounts for non-residential projects proposed by nonprofit organizations, small businesses and other property owners, Kurmis said.

Residential shoreline stabilization projects will be funded up to $5,000 but, again, non-residential property owners could receive larger grants with district approval.

Kurmis said the goal of encouraging storm water best management practices was to slow and filter polluted runoff before it enters local waterways. Shoreline stabilization projects help to anchor the soil and prevent stream bank erosion.

The grants are a first for the district, and Kurmis reported strong interest in the program already in mid-April, less than two weeks after the grants were announced. The district had about $265,000 set aside for the grant programs, he said.

Go to minnehahacreek.org for more information or contact Kurmis at AKurmis@minnehahacreek.org or 952-641-4523.

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A green yardstick for Minneapolis

A new bike-sharing system counts more than 100,000 rides in its first year, a 600-kilowatt solar electricity system is installed on the Minneapolis Convention Center roof and policy changes increase access to local foods — those are just a few of the accomplishments the city touted in its annual Minneapolis Greenprint report.

Released in April, the sixth version of the annual report tracks the city’s progress toward sustainability goals in four areas: energy and emissions; urban design and mobility; clean water; and green economy.

Progress was not made in all areas. In the water quality section of the report, the city estimated the number of storm water-filtering rain gardens increased by one-third in 2010, a positive, but it also acknowledged two events when raw sewage entered the Mississippi River due to heavy rains and a damaged storm water tunnel (that has since been repaired). Those events ended a three-year streak without combined sewer overflows.

Increased precipitation last year compared to recent years also led to poorer water clarity in city lakes, according to the report. Rain and goose droppings were factors in seven city beach closings last summer.

Metro Transit reported slightly higher transit use in 2010 after a dip in 2009. The number of light rail transit rides increased by about 6 percent over 2009, but bus ridership was up less than 1 percent.

The city added about 2.2 miles of bicycle lanes in 2010, fewer than the 5.9 miles constructed in 2009. And despite being named the nation’s no. 1 bike city by Bicycling Magazine last year, a count of bicycle traffic at 30 locations across the city registered a 4-percent decline in riders from 2009.

By the city’s measure, rates of recycling and composting both declined slightly last year from 2009, but the overall amount of waste generated in the city was also down.

For more details from the 2011 Minneapolis Greenprint report, download a copy at ci.minneapolis.mn.us/sustainability/.

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Metro Transit offering free rides to Living Green Expo

Metro Transit is offering free bus rides to the Living Green Expo May 7–8 on the Minnesota State Fair grounds.

More than 300 exhibitors were expected to participate in the 10th annual event, including Southwest-based businesses such as Calhoun Cycle, ReGo Electric Conversions and Bryn Mawr Soap Company. The expo promotes healthful and sustainable living and requires commercial exhibitors to go through a selection process showing how they promote “legitimate, sustainable behaviors,” according to the expo website, livinggreenexpo.mn.

Other exhibitors include area nonprofits and state and local government agencies.

Download and print a Go Greener Pass from the Metro Transit website (metrotransit.org) for free bus and light rail trips between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. both days of the expo.

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.