The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) invited River Watch to present at the MN State Fair as part of their community partners series. It’s always exciting to present at the Fair because there is a certain magic as people from across the state (and country) congregate to celebrate the end of summer. Curious folks from all walks of life stopped by the River Watch booth to investigate the mystery river water we collected and learn about the current state of three of Minnesota’s largest rivers: Mississippi, Minnesota, and St. Croix.
What stood out to me about our day at the fair was meeting so many people concerned about the state of our water, and looking for ways to do their part to clean it up. So here are some actions you can take to do your part:
Clean up the Storm Drains: Storm drain grates collect refuse from our neighborhood (leaves, trash, sand) and all of that travels unfiltered into natural waters. By cleaning up the storm drain near you, you can help minimize the pollution moving from your neighborhood.
Collect Lawn Waste: Lawn waste (cut grass, leaves etc.) is filled with Nitrates which are a significant source of pollution in Minnesota waters. By bagging up, composting, or repurposing your lawn waste, you are helping to keep it out of natural waters.
Use the Rain: Install a rain barrel on your gutter (DIY Instructions). Rain barrels collect storm runoff, which can be used to water plants. Plants do not need water that is purified to standards for human consumption. By using the collected rainwater, you lessen the demand for clean drinkable water, which in turn saves energy and helps us maintain the longevity of our water supply.
You can also convert your garden to a rain garden! The main feature of a rain garden is it has a deep basin-like center that collects rainwater and allows it to filter down into the ground. By encouraging rainwater infiltration, you reduce the potential for polluted runoff, and increase the water storage capacity of the land around you.
There are more ways to help [Clean up your animal waste!], but hopefully these three tips help get you started.