Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Churches Hear the Calling for Clean Water

Redeeming Love Church in Maplewood is one of the churches taking action to offset their impervious space.

A house of worship is, by design, a large structure designed to welcome many people with common values. Multiply this by the number of faith communities in RWMWD and you have a lot of parking lot and rooftop space serving thousands of people ...but also creating a significant stormwater problem.
Redeeming Love Church's parking lot.

Many of these congregations are hearing the call to help protect their local lakes, and we are proud to be partnering with them to achieve our mutual goal.

By the end of October 2013, Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District will have a total of ten churches in the watershed that have installed rain gardens or other Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their property. Some are partnering with us through grant programs or through our incentive program and collaborating with their local schools and congregation members to do their part.

Faith-Based Funding

This past year, RWMWD and Ramsey Conservation District were awarded a grant through the Clean Water Legacy fund to work with six faith organizations to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) on their property to help maintain or improve clean water. Already, two churches have stepped up and will have installed beautiful and functional stormwater features by the end of this fall.

Lakeview Lutheran garden showing the Clean Water Legacy
contribution sign.
Lakeview Lutheran Church, located in Maplewood at the intersection of Highway 61 and County Rd C, is very close to Kohlman Lake which is impaired for phosphorus. It was important that they worked to reduce the quantity and quality of stormwater coming off their site to reduce their impact on the lake. BMPs were chosen to capture and treat runoff from their roof and property to achieve this, including three rain gardens and one native planting area.

Lakeview Lutheran rain gardens and plantings.

Construction will soon begin at Redeeming Love Church in Maplewood on White Bear Avenue near Highway 36. Redeeming Love is also within the Kohlman Lake subwatershed, so similar concerns drove the design considerations. Five rain gardens will be installed on this site to capture and treat stormwater, while adding beauty and habitat to the property. 

Clockwise from problem to solution.  Upper left: a large parking lot creates a lot of runoff.  Upper right: Joe Lochner, District Landscape Designer and Conservation Technician for Ramsey Conservation District identifies a location.  Lower right: Construction begins.  Lower left: Rain garden excavation during a rainstorm (10/15/13).
The District will be collaborating with four more faith communities in 2014 and 2015 to install stormwater retrofit projects in impaired subwatersheds.

Spreading the Good Word

So what other churches are active in this kind of stewardship around the District?

Volunteers at First Hmong Church plant the first rain garden.
  • First Hmong Assembly of God Church on the east side of St. Paul recently decided to partner with the Watershed to install several rain gardens on its site. They received funds from the District’s BMP Incentive Program to create three rain gardens that were built in mid-summer this year. Volunteers from the church finished the planting of two of the gardens in the past couple of weeks. Thank you to Pastor Jerchah Heurh for his commitment to involving his congregation in this stewardship effort and the enthusiastic team of volunteers who turned out on a couple of beautiful days this month to put the finishing touches on their gardens.

Dennis Paulson (left) and Eagle Scout, Mitchell Morgan (right)
were the chief organizers facilitating Our Redeemer's rain garden
planting on May 26.
  • Thank you also to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church volunteers, Dennis Paulson, Eagle Scout Mitchell Morgan and his team of Boy Scouts and Ramsey County Master Gardeners, Linda Neilson and Carol Mason Sherrill who helped complete the planting of this church rain garden. Special kudos to Dennis for continuing to provide oversight on this garden through a challenging summer of heavy rains and drought. The new rain garden is doing great so far.

Right: Sherry Berry (left) and Shari Hamilton, two volunteers,
assess one of St. Mark's LC's rg in the summer to determine
which plants need to be added.
  • A team of volunteers at St. Mark’s Church in North St. Paul have adopted their church’s six rain gardens and are committed to the maintenance of them this year. Thank you to Shari Hamilton for coordinating this effort.  

·        A Bible School class at Cross Lutheran Church in Maplewood combined a visit to Wakefield Lake, a water quality monitoring activity and did a supplemental planting in their latest rain garden. 
·        At Hope Lutheran Church, a rain garden built in early summer 2013 is under the steadfast care and eye of Larry Cowan, a church volunteer who helped spearhead this project.

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church's rain garden.

·       Christ Episcopal Church in northwest Woodbury near Valley Creek Road and Queen’s Drive will be installing a large infiltration basin, a pervious asphalt extension to their parking lot and porous paver patio off their entrance. Work on this large project will be completed this fall.

A team effort at Hope Lutheran by Ramsey County Master
Gardener, Cheri Romero (left) and Wealth Management Organization
volunteers from Shoreview, (organizer, Mary Farnham, right).

RWMWD is partnering with several other Watershed Districts in late October to facilitate a focus group with church leaders, pastors and volunteers to brainstorm ways and develop a toolkit to engage congregations in educational activities related to their BMPs and other stewardship activities.

We are humbled by the commitment and collaboration, interest and enthusiasm we’ve been met with, and hope to continue the momentum in achieving our common value of protecting water resources. 



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