Planting for Clean Water

It’s officially spring, and we are ready to hear the birds singing, see buds swelling on tree branches and watch refreshing rains that wash away the salt and grit from the landscape. But the salt and grit that has accumulated on roads, sidewalks and parking lots these last few months are a major source of pollution in our lakes and streams. Some simple steps you can take to reduce runoff are to install a rain barrel and redirect downspouts away from driveways and sidewalks so they drain to a lawn or a nearby garden. You can also incorporate native plants into your landscaping and provide areas for water to infiltrate into the ground.

“Native plants” are plants that have been in this region for hundreds of years and have evolved to withstand the local climate and ecological pressures. In general, native plants have long roots that can find water deep underground, prevent erosion, decrease soil compaction, and filter out pollutants. Because they are well adapted to our climate and soil, they typically need little water and no fertilizer or pesticides. And they add beauty and habitat and food for wildlife and pollinators.

If you would like to add native plants to your landscape, your first step is to determine where you’d like to plant them. Ideal locations are along shorelines, slopes, depressions, and areas where turf grass doesn’t grow well. Then you will need to consider the soil type and sun exposure in those spots as these factors will influence which native plants will grow best. Also consider any local regulations that may affect what you can plant where, and what will be amenable to your neighbors. Lastly, determine what kind of plants you like – do you prefer colorful flowers that bloom throughout the year, or do you like grasses or low-growing shrubs? There are a lot of native plant guides out there, and a great resource is, which is a partnership of local government units (including Minnehaha Creek Watershed District), non-profits, and private companies working toward clean water goals.

Another way to incorporate native plants into your yard is to build a rain garden. A rain garden is a bowl-shaped garden of native plants that captures runoff and allows the water to soak into the ground. The water is filtered to remove sediment and pollutants, which keeps polluted water from running off the landscape and polluting local lakes and streams. Rain gardens also add beauty to your yard, support pollinators and birds, and may even inspire your neighbors to install one too!

If you are ready to help clean water in your neighborhood by planting native plants or a rain garden, check out the workshops Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is hosting in partnership with Metro Blooms in April: Happy spring and happy planting!

Thanks to Sarah Bhimani, Communications Coordinator at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District for this content!

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A low-salt diet for our lakes and streams

Despite the warmer weather this week, it’s never too early to consider the impact of salt on our waters. A little salt can go a long way for managing snow and ice. But too much salt – which may be less than you think – is causing irreversible damage to our lakes and streams.

The danger of ice and snow on roads and sidewalks is a fact of life in Minnesota, and salt and sand can help reduce ice and add traction. When that snow inevitably melts, however, most of that salt and sand wash directly into nearby waters.

Currently, salt use is not regulated, but it poses a real threat to clean water. The chloride contained in one teaspoon of road salt can permanently pollute five gallons of water. Chloride upsets aquatic environments, can kill birds and some plants, and can impact groundwater used for drinking.

Many people use more salt than they need. But using more salt does not melt more ice, or melt it faster. In reality, salt only works when the temperature is above 15 degrees. Extra salt crystals will just eventually become a pollutant. It’s best to use no more than one pound of salt per 250 square feet (for scale, a typical parking space is about 150 square feet). One pound of salt fills up a 12-ounce coffee mug.

Want to protect your local lake or stream from chloride pollution? Here are some easy ways you can help:

o Shovel regularly (a great form of winter exercise) to minimize ice buildup.
o Break up ice with an ice scraper before deciding if sand or salt is necessary for traction – you may find that it’s not.
o Salt won’t work if the temperature is below 15 degrees. Use calcium chloride or magnesium chloride instead, or use a small amount of sand for traction.
o Sweep up any salt that’s visible on dry pavement and use it elsewhere or throw it away.

By being proactive with your snow management, and using salt and sand wisely, you can save money, time, and the environment without sacrificing safety. Learn more at Thanks go to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District ( for this article.

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Zebra Mussel Treatment Completed and Regional Park Boat Access Reopened

Drew Dickhart from the Carver County Water Management Organization reported that the Zebra Mussel treatment at the Lake Minnewashta Regional Parks boat access has been completed. They opened a 20 foot gap in the containment barrier to allow boats to be immediately removed from or launched into the lake. The barrier will be fully removed in the very near future. Thank you for your patience. 

Remember to inspect your boats, docks and lifts for signs of zebra mussels. Please report any zebra mussels found to Drew Dickhart at, including your name and address for potential verification. Follow this link for more detail and pictures of Zebra Mussels

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10/25/17 Update on Zebra Mussel Treatment

As of Wednesday, Carver County reported that the aquacide treatment had killed 50% of the zebra mussels and another treatment was applied. They hope to have 100% mortality by Friday. At that time, they will provide an outlook for reopening the boat access

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2017 LMPA Annual Meeting

Approximately 40 neighbors gathered at the Camp Tanadoona dining center on Sunday October 1st for the LMPA’s Annual Meeting for 2017. After a delicious Pot Luck supper, LMPA president Steve Gunther opened the meeting. Plenty of open dialogue preceded the talk and continued on during his presentation which is summarized below:

2017 Highlights

• Zebra Mussel infestation discovered in June and again in September 2017
• Carver County and the Watershed District continue to support AIS prevention
• Lake resident monitors have been deployed to improve alert of a Zebra Mussel infestation…none have been observed
• Some state and local money is available for projects that will improve water quality
• Aquatic invasive weed levels are stable
• Good communication among our neighbors

• The threat of new and more devastating invasive species continues
• We have holes in our AIS prevention system …e.g. private boat launches
• Outside Funding for AIS inspections and rapid response from MCWD is decreasing
• Lake Quality Rating has degraded to a B
• LMPA Donor numbers are lower that 2016 (67 vs 78 vs 62 average)
• We are one careless or uneducated lake user away from changing our lake quality forever

2017 LMPA Income and Spending (*)

LMPA Income
LMPA Member donations
o 67 Households donated $14,550
TOTAL $14,550

LMPA Expenditures

o Weed treatment $10,826
o AIS Inspection contribution to Carver County $ 2,500
o Postage/office/newsletter/picnic $ 428
o MN Coalition of Lakes Association dues $ 150
TOTAL $13,986

Financial Reserve – Started in 2015
• Christmas Lake infested with Zebra Mussels in 2014 and their HOA spent over $25k on unreimbursed containment/treatment expenses
• The LMPA Board authorized the funding of a $25K Reserve for emergency use of this nature in 2015
• Thankfully, our reserve was available for the Zebra Mussel Rapid Response in 2016.
• Reserve was partially spent in 2016 and currently stands at $23,569 (-1,431)

What we’d like from you:
Do your part to help us meet our mission to keep Lake Minnewashta beautiful, preserve its water quality and prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
• Use a Permitted Lake Service Provider when working on your shore
• Don’t move a mussel from infested lakes via watercraft, toys or lifts
• Clean Drain and Dry your boat before and after launching.
• Inspect your docks, lifts and boats for signs of Zebra Mussels, especially when removed in the fall
• Plant a shoreline buffer strip and use available grant money to help
• Keep debris out of the storm drains, especially leaves
• Register your email address by sending a note to
• Volunteer for a committee, neighborhood captain or the board
• Make a tax-deductible donation tonight
• If you use Amazon, sign up for the Smile program – they donate to the LMPA

The entire Annual Report can be viewed by clicking on the attached link:

FINAL 2017 LMPA Annual Meeting

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As of this writing, the DNR has approved Carver County Water Management Organization’s (WMO) application to treat one acre at the public boat launch in Little Minnie. However, they have NOT yet approved their application to close the launch to perform the treatment. Our applicator is currently treating Lake Marion for Zebra Mussels but expects to complete that project on Friday. Assuming the DNR’s authorization is given this week and the applicator’s availability, the Carver Parks boat launch will be closed as early as Monday October 16th. Installation and removal of the containment barriers and treatment will take between 7 and 10 days.

Additionally, water samples have been taken in Little Minnie to perform both microscopic inspection and DNA testing for veligers (baby mussels). Those samples have been forwarded to the labs but no date has been given for results. We would use those results to see if larvae were present outside the immediate area of the launch. This might dictate that a larger (29 acre) area be treated in the spring. At that time, the LMPA will likely be asked to substantially contribute to the cost of that. The small treatment proposed now will likely be paid for without LMPA funds although they will use 100 gallons of chemical we bought in 2016.

Using the input given by the Association at our Annual Meeting on 10/1, I have asked WMO that the old boat launch, Access #2, not be reopened to allow boats to be launched into the lake. Our concern is that while Little Minnie affords some containment to the larger lake, Access #2 does not. I have also asked that residents be allowed to remove boats using that access, realizing that it is a very shallow access and is not suitable for deep draft boats. Both the DNR (who controls the access) and Carver Parks (who owns the land) have rejected that request. WMO will move their AIS inspectors over to that launch once Access 1 is closed. They will remain in place until 10/31. This provides the same level of protection that we currently have. With lower boat traffic this time of the year and with the fact that the launch is very shallow (some boaters won’t risk damage to their boats) and the water temperature dropping, the risk is low in their minds.

I plan to escalate the decision by the DNR and Carver Parks but I don’t have much faith I can convince the DNR. Any escalation risks that the DNR would delay, hold or rescind approval of closing the launch for treatment.

What should you do?
• You might want to make arrangements to take your boats out of the lake this weekend, especially if you have a waterski or wakeboard boat. Otherwise, plan to wait until the treatment has been completed and the barriers removed. I will send another notice out when that is completed and the deeper launch is opened.
• As you take your docks and boat lifts out, do a thorough inspection for small mussels that might have attached themselves. Notify Eric Feldseth from the Watershed at if you see something suspicious.