Water and You
If you are looking to report an illicit discharge, please contact the City of Bloomington Engineering department at:
City of Bloomington Engineering
- 952-563-4870 or engineering@BloomingtonMN.gov
City of Bloomington Environmental Health
- 952-563-8934 or envhealth@BloomingtonMN.gov
Preventing pollution from damaging water is a key priority of the City of Bloomington’s Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination System (IDDE). Noxious chemicals may come to mind when thinking about pollution in water but there is a wide variety of pollutants that are prohibited from entering water bodies. See the list below for some common examples of illicit discharge events. If you see illicit discharge, please report it to the City using the contact information presented above.
While direct dumping of pollutants into water bodies happens on occasion, the most common way that pollution gets into the lakes, ponds, wetlands, and streams of Bloomington is through storm drains. Storm drains connect to pipes that outlet directly into water bodies – the water in these pipes is not cleaned. Please, do not put anything other than clean water in storm drains. If you want to learn more about how to prevent pollution from entering storm drains please see the Adopt-A-Drain program.
Rain gardens are shallow depressions that temporarily hold water. This allows water time to soak into the ground. Letting water soak into the ground helps reduce runoff, and keeps water clean!
Please visit the Rain Gardens Web Page for further information
Turf grass is great for recreation. However, in most cases the common turf lawn is rarely used. This is a problem because too much turf-grass is harmful to local ecology. turf-grass lawns are not very good at filtering rain water, are biologically sterile, and take a tremendous amount of time and effort to maintain. The good news is that there is an alternative: meadow lawns.
There are a lot of different ways to convert a turf-grass lawn into a meadow lawn. You can go simple and plant low growing, native grasses as turf alternatives. These allow you to use your yard in ways not so different from when it was turf. Or, you can dedicate your meadow to local wildlife using a wider variety of plant species. Either way, replacing turf-grass with native plants is helpful for the local ecology. Plus, once established, a meadow lawn requires less maintenance than the turf lawns of old.
Lawns to Legumes
The Lawns to Legumes program offers a combination of workshops, coaching, planting guides, and cost-share funding for installing pollinator-friendly native plantings in residential lawns. The program has three components:
- Grants to demonstration neighborhoods
- Grants and coaching for individual landowners
- Outreach and education for all interested Minnesota residents
In this case, a buffer refers to a strip of land, growing native plants, that is between a waterbody and nearby land uses. Buffers protect the nearby waterbody by cleaning rainwater as it flows overland, stabilizing the shoreline and providing important habitat.
Wherever possible, it is a good habit not to mow directly to the edge of a waterbody. Beyond that, the size of the buffer is up to you but keep in mind that the bigger it is, the better. The minimum recommended width for any buffer is twenty feet but, taking site limitations into account,
If you would like to install a buffer, the steps are very similar to planting a native lawn. You can also visit the following links for more information:
The adopt-a-drain program empowers residents to help improve Minnesota’s water quality. Existing across the Twin Cities metropolitan area, adopt-a-drain is available to Bloomington residents.
Please visit the Adopt-a-Drain Web Page for further information
The warm temperatures of spring melts snow. This extra water can build up and, if there is enough of it, can cause a strong potential for localized spring flooding.
What can you do?
- Be prepared: move valuables out of low areas in your house and test your sump pump
- Consider flood insurance (note the 30-day waiting period): MN DNR information regarding Flood Insurance
- Prepare your property: The graphic below shows tips that you can take to minimize the localized flooding risk to your home.
If the risk of localized flooding is high, sand and bags will be provided for Bloomington residents at the Western Maintenance Facility, 10500 Hampshire Ave S.
Flood insurance information
National Flood Insurance Program's Floodsmart.gov
Check the flood risk and estimated insurance costs for a property.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Search the flood info section for maps and other resources.
There are many ways to volunteer with water related activities. This page describes a few organized groups that are dedicated to water topics. These groups include:
- Master Water Stewards
- Citizen Assisted Monitoring Program (CAMP)
- Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP)
See below for more information on each organization and happy volunteering!
Organized under the Freshwater Society the Master Water Stewards is described as a program that certifies and supports community leaders to prevent water pollution and educate community members to conserve and protect our waterways. The program is a partnership between Freshwater and participating cities, counties, watershed management organizations and non-profits.
Please visit their website for more information:
Citizen Assisted Monitoring Program (CAMP)
Volunteers to help monitor the health of Bloomington’s lakes! In Bloomington, this program is run by the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District. Visit the following links for more information:
CAMP is a Metropolitan Council - Environmental Services program where citizen volunteers monitor water quality in the Twin Cities metro area. Training and equipment are provided. Access to a boat is required.
In Bloomington, the following lakes are monitored: Bush Lake, Normandale Lake, and Lower Penn Lake.
A volunteer should expect to collect data on a bi-weekly basis (April-October). Water samples will be sent to a lab and tested for total phosphorus, nitrogen, and chlorophyll-a. A volunteer will also obtain a Secchi transparency measurement, and provide some user perception information about the lake's physical and recreational condition.
The main purpose of CAMP is to provide the City and other water managers with water quality information. This data helps in resource management and documentation of water quality impacts and trends.
Wetland Health Evaluation Program (WHEP)
WHEP is a program that engages citizen volunteers to help monitor wetlands throughout Dakota and Hennepin Counties. Each year Bloomington chooses a few wetlands for WHEP volunteers to survey. The data they collect helps inform restoration and management decisions.
Volunteers are typically recruited and asked to register between March and May of each year. Visit the WHEP website for more information and select the “Get Involved” tab for specific information on volunteering:
Which is the most dangerous to the health of water bodies: fertilizer, pesticides, grass clippings, motor oil, or leaves?
Many people don't realize that leaves and grass clippings are harming our water resources. The truth is, these organic materials do more damage than fertilizers, pesticides and motor oil.
When raked or blown into the street, leaves make their way into storm sewers and travel directly into our water bodies. As they decay, they release nutrients that harm the delicate ecosystems.
- Compost your leaves. It's the surest way to keep them out of the streets and storm drains, and thus, out of the wetlands, lakes and streams.
- Chop your leaves with a power mower. A fine layer of chopped leaves provides nutrients to your lawn.
- Use leaves around rose bushes and landscape plants. Leaves make an excellent winter mulch.
- Bag your leaves for pick-up.
Fertilizers and Pesticides
Fertilizer may be necessary for your lawn's health. However, the nutrients in fertilizer can be harmful to the water ecosystem. Applying the right fertilizer, in the right amount, ensures healthier lawns and water bodies.
- Have your soil tested. Knowing what kind of soil you have helps you determine what kind of fertilizer your lawn needs.
- Fill fertilizer spreaders on a hard surface. This makes spills easier to clean up. Never wash spills into the street.
- Close the gate on your spreader when you cross hard surfaces. Sweep up fertilizer that falls on the sidewalk, street or driveway.
- Follow label directions exactly. Keep pesticides off hard surfaces, and never pour excess pesticides into storm drains.
Did you know that Minnesota soils are naturally high in phosphorous?
In the past, lawn fertilizers commonly contained levels of phosphorous high enough to be dangerous to Bloomington water bodies. New regulations prohibit phosphorus in fertilizers under most circumstances.
Oil that drips onto driveways and streets washes into storm drains and directly into our water bodies. Five quarts of oil in a lake can create a slick as large as two football fields and cling to mud and plants for more than six months.
- Keep cars tuned up and repair leaks.
- Clean up oil spills on your driveway promptly.
- Collect oil and other automotive fluids for recycling. Drop them off at the South Hennepin Recycling and Problem Waste Dropoff Center, 1400 West 96th Street, 612-348-6500.
Clippings left on streets and driveways wash into the storm drains and directly into our water bodies. When grass decays, it releases dangerous amounts of phosphorus.
- Leave grass clippings on your lawn. They provide valuable nutrients.
- Use a mulching mower or equip a standard mower with a mulching attachment. This reduces the clipping size and increases the rate at which the clippings decompose.
- Sweep up and recycle clippings that fall on the driveway, sidewalk or street. Sweeping clippings into the street is just like sweeping them into our water bodies.
Litter and Trash
Litter and trash in our storm drains becomes litter and trash in our water bodies.
- Sweep up litter and trash from your driveway or sidewalk. Don't sweep it into the street.
Pet waste left on or near driveways, sidewalks or streets can make its way into storm drains and travel directly into our wetlands, lakes, creek and river. As pet waste decays, it releases nutrients and bacteria that damage the ecosystem.
Rain Barrels and Rainwater Gardens
Rain barrels capture water from each rainfall, allowing users to reduce the amount of treated municipal water needed to irrigate yards and gardens. Rainwater gardens can be planted in waterlogged "low spots," changing a lawn care problem into a natural and beautiful way to control water runoff.
Every spring, many female turtles move from lakes, ponds, wetlands, rivers and streams to nesting areas where they deposit their eggs in self-excavated nests.
Unfortunately, many nesting areas are separated from the turtles' wintering areas by roads. As a result, turtles are often observed crossing roads as they make their way to nesting areas.
You can help reduce vehicle-related mortality for turtles by observing these guidelines:
- Allow turtles to cross roads without assistance. When turtles can safely cross roads unaided due to a lack of oncoming traffic, allow them to do so. Observe from a distance and avoid rapid movements as doing otherwise will often cause turtles to change direction, stop, or seek shelter within their shells.
- Avoid handling turtles excessively. While a desire to inspect turtles closely is understandable, excessive handling can disrupt their normal behaviors. Prolonged examination of turtles should therefore be limited to only one or two individuals of each species.
- Maintain turtles' direction of travel. Always move turtles in the same direction they were traveling in when you encountered them. Turtles should always be moved across roadways in as direct a line as possible.
- Check around your vehicle for hiding turtles. Some species of turtles will go into parking lots, get confused and hide in the shade under the cars. Please look for turtles before leaving a parking space so that they aren't accidentally backed over.
- Slow down and drive around turtles on the road. Many people want to help turtles cross the road which is understandable. The best approach is to let the turtle cross unassisted.
Minnesota has nine turtle species, some of which are protected. The three species you are most likely to see in Bloomington are the Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle and Blandings Turtle, which is a protected species.
- Visit the turtles page on the Minnesota DNR's website for more information on Minnesota turtles.
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