Your everyday actions water quality. It doesn’t matter where you live—what you do in your yard affects the health of local bodies of water.
Stormwater that runs off your yard and driveway eventually makes its way to the lake – often faster than you think! That water not only adds to lake levels, it also carries sediment, nutrients, and other harmful chemicals into the lake. Any time you keep water where it falls, you prevent problems downstream. Simple actions such as directing downspouts to grassy areas, aerating your lawn, minimizing salt use, using rain barrels, or planting a rain garden in a low area all add up to big improvements for our lakes and streams.
Select a topic below to learn more:
- Rain Barrels
- Household Hazardous Waste
- Manage Animal Waste
- Lawn Care
- Winter Salt Use
- Grants and Technical Assistance
You can also view our Homeowner Actions Fact Sheet for a more general overview of steps you can take on your property to protect water quality.
Unlike a typical vegetable or flower garden, a raingarden is intended to improve water quality of nearby creeks, streams, lakes and rivers. They include deep-rooted native to Minnesota plants that tolerate being partially flooded on occasion. And the best part is there is little maintenance after you dig, mulch and plant your raingarden. Other than simple weeding and watering, rain gardens don’t require a lot of attention, but add life and variety to your landscape.
Read our Raingarden Fact Sheet for more information about the benefits of rain gardens and how to install one on your property.
Other resources include:
- A Step-by-Step Guide to Rain Gardens
- Native Plant Kit Order Form (2016 Order Deadline is Friday, May 20)
Want to install a raingarden? Interested landowners can contact the District for more information and assistance in getting started. Raingarden workshops are held periodically through out the year. Visit our Training and Workshops page to find upcoming events.
PLSLWD also offers cost-share opportunities for up to $250 for installing certain water quality practices, including raingardens! Visit our Cost Share page for more information on how to apply.
Rain barrels are an easy way to collect and use rainwater for your yard and landscape plants. They range in size from 50 gallons to 130 gallons – now that’s a lot of water! By using stormwater instead of drinking water for household tasks, resources are conserved and pollution is prevented from entering our lakes. You can build your own rain barrel or buy a pre-made one. Either way, make sure that the water is closed off to bugs and debris.
Curious about rain barrels? The District offers a cost-share opportunities for up to $250 for installing certain water quality practices, including rain barrels! Visit our Cost Share page for more information on how to apply.
Household Hazardous Waste
Motor oil, gasoline, cleaning chemical, leftover paint and pesticides are all common household products that can create big problems if they reach our lakes, streams, and wetlands. Unused medications are contaminants of emerging concern and are increasing found in our waters. Unused and expired drugs and medications can be dropped off for safe disposal at the Prior Lake Police station through the Take it to the Box program. You should NEVER dispose any of these materials in storm drains, which do not lead to a treatment plant, but rather are connected to our lakes, streams and wetlands.
Fortunately, Scott County has a program for properly disposing of these and other household hazardous wastes. You can drop off many household hazardous waste items at the Scott County Household Hazardous Waste facility located on Highway 282 (near the intersection with CR 13). More information on household hazardous waste and a list of accepted items can be found on the Scott County HHW Facility website or by calling 952-496-8652. Find a list of other locations to dispose of household hazardous waste items here.
If you see anyone dumping any substance other than stormwater in roadside ditches and storm drains, please report it to the District by calling (952) 447-4166. For potentially hazardous materials and petroleum spills, call 9-1-1 first when there is an immediate threat to life or property.
Read our Illicit Discharge Fact Sheet to learn more about identifying illicit discharges.
Manage Animal Waste
Even Fido’s actions can affect water quality! Poorly managed animal waste can present a serous threat to our soil, groundwater, our fish and our health. Contaminants in animal waste contain E-coli bacteria, phosphorus, and other nutrients that cause excessive aquatic plant and algae growth.
So, scoop the poop – pick up after your pet and dispose of their waste in the trash or toilet.
Do not feed the ducks or geese. Feeding wild animals is not good for their survival or water quality. By luring ducks and geese with food, you increase the concentration of their feces, adding bacteria and nutrients to the water.
Did you know that unhealthy lawns and poor lawn care practices can be bad for the environment? Choosing and using fertilizers selectively, managing grass clippings and leaves, and even maintaining grass height can go a long way toward supporting a healthy lawn and protecting our waterbodies.
When planning how to maintain your lawn consider the following:
- Choose grasses and flowers that use less water
- Rake and collect your leaves, or mulch them to use on your property
- Landscape naturally with native plants
- Add a buffer between your lawn and waterbodies
- Reduce fertilizer use
- Reduce (or eliminate) pesticide use
- Choose a zero-phosphorus fertilizer. It is illegal in Minnesota to use fertilizers containing phosphorus (some exceptions apply). Visit www.mda.state.mn.us/phoslaw for more information about this regulation.
- If you think your lawn needs phosphorus, test your soil first. For information call the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Lab at 612-625-3101 or visit www.soiltest.cfans.umn.edu.
- Sweep spilled fertilizer off paved surfaces.
- Remember, compost and manure contain phosphorus too.
Watch the video series! Improved Lawn Maintenance: Good Choices for Clean Water
For residents, homeowners, business owners and seasonal workers.
Watch the 3 part video series now! Video Produced by the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
All de-icers, including rock salt, are harmful to our environment. When snow melts, de-icers travel to our lakes and rivers through storm drains. Just one teaspoon of salt can pollute five gallons of water, and it never disappears or breaks down. The only way to keep salt out of our environment is to minimize usage in the first place. To reduce the impact on salts to our environment try these tips:
- Remove as much snow as possible with a shovel or snow blower.
- Choose the correct products – different products work at different temperatures.
- Use sand for traction instead of rock salt.
- Use less de-icer – less than 4 cups of product will cover an average two-car driveway and sidewalk.
Grants and Technical Assistance
Periodic classes on shorelines and rain gardens are available locally through the Blue Thumb Program. Grants and technical/design assistance are available through the PLSLWD after completion of the required classes. The Blue Thumb Program also provides information on plant selection, DIY designs, and local sources of native plants for shoreline stabilization.