Blooming Alleys for Clean Water

Improving Water Quality and Neighborhood Esthetics

The recent Diamond Lake Blooming Alleys for Clean Water project built on the previous partnership of Metro Blooms and the Friends of Diamond Lake and successes in the Go Blue! Community Makeover project.

Over the past two years, Diamond Lake Blooming Alleys for Clean Water engaged residents on targeted blocks in the Diamond Lake watershed to install new stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their properties. Installations were placed to create the biggest impact in improving both water quality and neighborhood aesthetics. In several cases, neighbors partnered across properties to capture stormwater runoff.

Impressive accomplishments

As you walk through the participating alleys you will see some of the new raingardens, permeable pavement and native plantings installed as part of this program.

Raingarden at 56xx - 11th Avenue South in MinneapolisAbove: New Raingarden at 5616 11th Avenue South

 

We celebrate the 29 homeowners on four blocks in the Diamond Lake watershed who installed 51 new features through Diamond Lake Blooming Alleys for Clean Water. This includes 17 permeable pavement systems, 15 raingardens, 6 planted swales and 13 native plantings.

We also celebrate all who made this possible by creating the plans, assisting with plantings, and providing all of the other expertise and effort that went into these BMPs. That’s a lot of community action!

Why is this important?

These features help to infiltrate and clean stormwater runoff before it enters Diamond Lake and Minnehaha Creek. Runoff from alleyways is often the most polluted stormwater to flow into lakes and streams because it picks up oil, fertilizer, salt, pet waste and debris as it flows off garages, over driveways and down the alley to the storm sewer.

Measurable impacts

These new features will keep one pound of phosphorus and 264 pounds of sediment from washing into Diamond Lake each year. On average, they will also reduce the volume of stormwater runoff flowing into the lake by 408,076 gallons yearly!

These beautified alleys not only help improve water quality, they also create inviting community spaces. The new native plants also provide valuable habitat for native bees and butterflies throughout the neighborhood.

Positive actions through partnerships

These installations were made possible through partnerships between neighborhood residents, Folwell Middle School students, Friends of Diamond Lake, Metro Blooms, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Hennepin County, and Freshwater Society Master Water Stewards.

Students from Folwell Middle School helped to plant the Blooming Alleys around Diamond Lake

Above: Students from Folwell Middle School helped to plant the Blooming Alleys around Diamond Lake

 

Next steps

If you would like more information about how to implement these practices in your own yard, visit the resources section of the FoDL website.

Diamond Lake Watershed - Blooming Alleys map

 

 

Diamond Lake Watershed - Blooming Alleys map


Thanks to Laura Scholl, Environmental Project Director, Metro Blooms, for providing information for this article.

Wood Duck Box Successes!

Wood Duck BoxTeresa Burton, who is in charge of Wood Duck box monitoring for the Minneapolis Park Board had the following comments about this year’s activity in the boxes around Diamond Lake:

Great news: both houses were successful! One house had down, shells, and membranes…only 2 unhatched eggs and the other had shells and membranes and 5 unhatched eggs. What is very interesting is that for the last two years both houses had successful hatches but the same box had no down either year.
Just to recap: 2014 (first year): Unhatched eggs only. Used by hen but possible dump nest? 2015: Down (1 house), eggs, membranes, a few unhatched eggs in each. Success! 2016: Down(1 house), eggs, membranes, fewer unhatched eggs. Success! 

Monitoring the Health of Diamond Lake

Since 2008, Diamond Lake has been part of an annual monitoring program called WHEP (Wetland Health Evaluation Program), which monitors wetlands throughout Hennepin County. The monitoring follows a rigorous protocol to give results that are comparable year-to-year. Both shoreline plants and water macroinvertebrates (such as dragonflies, snails, water boatman, and leeches) are sampled, the plant varieties are catalogued and the macroinvertebrates are categorized by species and number.

Diamond Lake appears as a lake on maps but its shallow depth and vegetation place it in the DNR’s classification as a Type 4 wetland. At a maximum of 5.8 feet and average depth of 3.2 feet, Diamond Lake biologically functions like a wetland and its health is more accurately measured by using wetland metrics than lake metrics.

The macroinvertebrates in particular are biomarkers of the water body’s health. Some are more tolerant of poor water quality and others are found primarily in water of higher quality. Over the past nine years of monitoring, two general observations can be made:

  1. The shoreline vegetation has shown a lack of diversity with increases in the quantity of invasive plants. This is at least partially due to the presence of muskrats breaking up cattail beds and allowing new plant species to become established.
  2. The macroinvertebrates have shown some increase in diversity with more of the ‘bugs’ being those that are found in higher quality water bodies.

The trend in macroinvertebrate findings is encouraging. Diamond Lake will always face water quality challenges because it is a small 55-acre body of water dependent on stormwater runoff from over 900 acres of urban development, including highways, streets, driveways, alleys and lawns.

Mature trees, rain gardens, and pervious paver surfaces can all help to improve the water quality of Diamond Lake by controlling the sediment and nutrients flowing into the lake.

Your gifts to Friends of Diamond Lake are now tax deductible!

FoDL is now an accredited 501c3 nonprofit organization.

Accredited 501c3Friends of Diamond Lake has always been a nonprofit organization, but now we have official status with the Feds — a designation known as “501(c)(3) Charitable Organization.”  The biggest benefit of having achieved this status is that donations made to FoDL are now officially tax deductible — yet another reason to help FoDL be an advocate for the health and vitality of Diamond Lake and its watershed in Minneapolis.

Coming soon:

  • Online membership sign-up and renewal
  • An online “store” where you can pick up some cool turtle crossing swag.

Stay tuned!

 

Wood Duck Houses 2015-2016

Every fall, Teresa Burton of the Park Board inspects the two Wood Duck houses on Diamond Lake and prepares them for mating season in the spring. Here is her update for the fall of 2015:

“Both houses were successful this year!  One was picture perfect with down, broken bits of shell, and membranes.  The other house contained broken bits of shell and membranes.   This is great news!  I have included a couple of photos.  One photo is of the box just being opened and the other is the nest contents spread on the ground for counting purposes.  We leave the boxes clean and open for the winter and in the spring we will be adding fresh nesting material and closing the house back up in hopes that the boxes will continue to be used.”

resized_1

resized_2

Tips for Water-Friendly Yard Care

How can you take care of your lawn AND protect our waters?
You might be surprised at just how simple it can be.

rain-on-grassIf you’re working on fall clean-up like most residents, there are some things you should know that can help improve the quality of Diamond Lake and other lakes & streams.

Responsible, low-impact turf care is easy, and generally less expensive than using chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides that pollute our lakes and streams.  This article, courtesy of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, provides tips & tricks for ensuring that caring for your little patch of green also cares for the water ecosystems.

Get the scoop before you rake!

Get the Latest Newsletter

Get the latest Friends of Diamond Lake Newsletter

Take a look and see what Friends of Diamond Lake has been up to, what plans are in store, and how you can get involved.

Special thanks go to Melanie Countryman and Leigh Oltmans for editing and layout and to all of the contributors of content and photos.

See all of the newsletters here »

Not yet on the mailing list? (We can fix that!)

Birding Expedition

Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

Thanks to Mark for leading our first spring birding expedition. The weather was perfect and the birds cooperative. In addition to being an experienced birder, Mark is an enthusiastic photographer and we hope to feature more of his Diamond Lake bird photos on the website. Watch for email blasts and website notifications of future expeditions.

Birds, Birds, Birds!

Swans on Diamond LakeWe are excited to have an experienced birder to help us again with this year’s inventory our of bird population around Diamond Lake. Mark is a resident of the Tangletown Neighborhood but he has agreed to cross neighborhood lines to help us out. As a long time birder Mark has frequented Diamond Lake in past outings. He will be leading several birding trips to help interested people learn to identify and appreciate the over 70 species of birds that either stop over on the lake as part of their migratory trek north or reside and nest on the lake and its surrounding habit. Specific trip dates are weather dependent and are in the works, so look for the birding expeditions on the website and in email blasts to members. Please be sure we have your preferred email address (see the Newsletter subscription form at the bottom of the page). Watch for upcoming notices in late April, May and June.