Master Water Stewards: Dave and Katharine's story

Master Water Stewards Dave Stack and Katharine Winston installed a raingarden at Katharine’s neighbor’s home at 4615 Meadow Road, Edina, MN, 55424 for their capstone project on October 14th. Every Steward is required to do a capstone project as part of their certification process.  Each capstone project is comprised of an installed stormwater management project, and an education and outreach campaign.  The installed raingarden was originally planned to be in Katharine’s backyard, but the extreme sloping of her yard proved to be too much of a challenge for the time they had to complete the project.

Katharine’s neighbor’s yard proved to be the perfect location for a raingarden.  Her neighbor, Ann, had been having problems with moisture in the basement.   Downspouts were piped underground, very close to her home’s foundation, ending in outflow pipes in the back yard. The project involved not only installing a raingarden, but redoing the underground downspout piping so that the downspouts led away from her home and into the raingarden with four newly installed catch basins. The raingarden is a rectangular garden 20’ x 6’.

The raingarden will capture runoff from 521 square feet of roof area. A one-inch rainfall computes to 43 cubic feet or 323 gallons of runoff. The perc test showed an infiltration rate of 5.8 inches per hour. The homeowner’s desired location, size and shape of the raingarden resulted in a 20′ by 6′ rectangular exterior footprint. The maximum water holding depth is 6″. Due to the land sloping upward from one end to the other the actual maximum water holding size was approximately 4′ by 18′, which produced a maximum holding capacity of 36 cubic feet or 270 gallons. With the fairly high infiltration rate, this raingarden should infiltrate the great majority of runoff from the roof areas. Even during a one-inch rain event, infiltration during the first half inch would most likely make room for the second half inch.   

For Dave and Katharine’s outreach project, they started a Community Clean Up For Water Quality in Katharine’s Edina neighborhood. She worked with the neighborhood association’s president to get the names and addresses of all the homes in the neighborhood, emailed the homeowners to let them know Katharine and Dave would be out door knocking and providing the homeowners leaf bags for participating in the clean-up, and to let them know when the clean-up would take place. The door knocking took place over 3 days (October 23-25th) and reached 170 homes in the neighborhood. When door knocking Katharine and Dave dropped off a leaf bag with literature attached at all the homes. Katharine and Dave had 46 one-on-one conversations with homeowners about the Community Clean Up and the Master Water Steward Program.

The day of the Clean Up, November 2nd, Katharine and Dave drove around to all of the homes in the neighborhood to count how many leaf bags were put out, and especially looked for the bag they provided when door knocking. To thank the homeowners who participated in the community clean up by raking their leaves and leaving the bags out on Clean Up day, Katharine and Dave went to the participants’ homes and knocked on their doors to personally thank them and to offer them coffee, apple cider, chocolate chip cookies, or mini muffins from Caribou Coffee as thanks. If the participants were home and answered their doors, Katharine and Dave also chatted with them about the Master Water Steward program and/or chatted with them about the benefits of raingardens or rain barrels, and talked about why it’s so beneficial to clean up leaves. On the clean-up day, 42 out of the 170 participated in the clean up and left out their bags. Of the 42, Katharine and Dave had one-one-one conversations with 16 of those participants and provided them with the Caribou Coffee treats. In total, 200 leaf bags were counted, which Katharine has calculated will prevent 2,000 lbs of algae bloom.

When talking with the clean-up day participants, one homeowner was interested in the Master Water Steward Class, two homeowners were interested in raingardens, one homeowner was interested in putting in a cistern, rain barrels, or other stormwater management projects, and another homeowner was interested in permeable pavers. After the Clean Up, Katharine sent out a thank you email to everyone in the neighborhood, whether they participated or not, and she mailed out thank you cards to the people who participated, which targets those who were not home during the clean-up.

According to Dave Stack, “The goal was to make people more aware of, and to act on, the fact that leaves in the street eventually wash down the gutter and into a local body of surface water such as the Creek, a lake, pond or wetland. We communicated that excess amounts of leaves have become a pollutant. Leaves add phosphorus to the creeks and lakes, and excess phosphorus causes excess algae growth that harms the natural aquatic environment. One pound of phosphorus will cause 500 pounds of algae in the lake.” 

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