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A small re-evolution is happening in Blaine on the shores of the Northtown Library stormwater pond. This pond captures the water running off the parking lots for the library and adjacent Library Administration Center. That runoff can carry trash, sand, gravel, mud debris, salt from melting snow in the winter, grass clippings and leaves, and any leakage from vehicles. Most stormwater ponds are designed to capture pollutants for about 30 years.
The re-evolution started in 2020 by adding filtering capacity at the pond shoreline to capture the runoff pollutants before they get into the pond. The filter? Plants. Specifically, plants with long roots creating multiple tiny channels for runoff to soak into the soil. The pollutants then bind onto the roots and soil particles. Less pollutants in the pond reduces the level of algal blooms and extends the useful life of the pond and reduces maintenance costs.
The other part of the re-evolution is who is doing it: a partnership of Westwood Middle School students, teachers, and community volunteers assisted by library staff and city staff, coordinated by a consultant, and partially funded by the Coon Creek Watershed District. The students use the hands-on experience to enhance their math skills by counting and growing seeds for the best diversity and creating planting plans. Then, they apply their math in a real-world project, digging and planting the shoreline buffer gardens along the Northtown Library pond.
The goals for the project include being a demonstration site for people to see up close how shorelines can be functional and beautiful at the same time. Functional as filters and as a habitat for butterflies, bees, birds, and other pollinators; beautiful with flowers that bloom and have diverse plant structure throughout the growing season. There’s informational signage on site for visitors to learn more about the project.
Check out the Northtown Library pond for the best flower options, whether for a shoreline planting or even a small pollinator patch for your yard. The plants can be organized to look more like a formal garden if you are uncomfortable with a natural look. A bonus for shorelines is that having plants like these can also help protect the shoreline from erosion. Long roots hold the soil much better than short turf grass roots. Stop by the Northtown Library today to see the pond!