Southside citizens who enjoy the recreational and cultural pleasures of Powderhorn Lake were pleased to learn that the lake was taken off the state’s pollution-impaired list in late 2009-but don’t look for a swimming beach anytime soon.
Powderhorn Lake is an impaired body of water. Litter, animal waste, lawn chemicals, automobile fluids and other untreated waste is carried by runoff into the lake from city streets through sewer lines. The City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Parks have used multiple strategies to improve water quality in the lake, but success has been limited and new strategies are being sought.
After a 10-year battle by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), the City and the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) to rescue Powderhorn’s water quality from the effects of stormwater runoff, the state has stepped in to fund a new weapon: raingardens.
Raingardens feature native plants, which help to keep rainwater on-site. Virtually all water coming into the lake comes from storm sewer lines. In the area around the lake, storm drains (the drains you see in curbs near street corners) direct rainwater runoff into storm sewer lines and directly into the lake.
The plan calls for up to 150 raingardens to be installed in a Powderhorn-Central test area in yards served by one sewer outlet. These gardens will be part of a three-year study comparing water quality results against those of 20 raingardens served by a second sewer line outside the test area.
Residents interested in signing up for the project are invited to attend an education workshop sponsored by Metro Blooms from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 24, at the Powderhorn Park building. The test area installations are scheduled for August and September.
Properties qualifying for enrollment lie between East Lake Street and East 32nd Street on Portland, Oakland, Park, Columbus, Chicago, Elliot and 10th Avenues. The 20 sites outside the test area have been selected and will be completed in June, according to Corrie Zoll, education coordinator of Metro Blooms.
“The raingardens will be placed at no cost to participants,” Zoll said. “Participants will be asked to agree to maintain the installations for at least three years.” Interested residents or homeowners should contact Metro Blooms at 612-699-2426. Mailings were scheduled to begin about April 1.
Major funding for the program comes from the state’s Enviro-nment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, and four Metro Blooms partners: the park board, the City, the watershed district and the McKnight Foundation.