As 2017 comes to an end, we reflect back on the last year and look forward to the next. You can read all about the watershed district's 2017 highlights in our Annual Communication below. You can also get a copy of the communication as a wall-calendar, with photos from all around the watershed. Stop by our office to pick up copies, or click here for a pdf version.
49 Years of Watershed Protection
The Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District was established on July 31, 1969. The District is a local government unit charged with protecting, managing, and restoring water resources. It encompasses all the land that drains into any of the three creeks in its name. At about 50 square miles, it includes parts of seven cities (Bloomington, Chanhassen, Chaska, Deephaven, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka, and Shorewood), and two counties (Carver and Hennepin).
The District is led by residents and water professionals. Five managers (four appointed by the Hennepin County Commissioners and one by Carver), serve three-year terms directing District activities. The District partners with local communities to identify top priorities and plan, implement, and manage efforts to protect clean water. The District works to educate and engage community members in this stewardship. Watershed activities are funded by property tax levies.
Thank you to Forster and Bisek
In 2017, two members of the Board of Managers completed their terms. Former President Perry Forster dedicated 23 years of service to the watershed. Under his leadership, the District embarked on a variety of water quality projects and completed two management plans. Another highlight of his tenure was the hiring of the first District administrator. The District now has 5 staff members who run data collection, permitting, community outreach and administration. By building this team, the District has greatly grown its capacity to protect clean water.
Manager Mary Bisek joined the Board of Managers in 2012. She was an active voice in getting the District to think more about groundwater conservation and water reuse. She also provided thoughtful insight on the importance of native plants while promoting high standards of governance. Both managers were part of ordering the first creek restoration project and two groundwater conservation projects and led the District in the development of the 4th generation water management plan. They will be missed but we wish them the best and look forward to seeing them around the watershed.
Welcome to Pedersen and Ward
The District welcomes Manager Pedersen and Manager Ward to the watershed board! Manager Pedersen has served on the District’s Citizen Advisory Committee for several years and volunteered with District programs including the Master Water Stewards. Pedersen is also a Master Gardener, and her professional work has ranged from human resources to landscape design.
Manager Ward is an active member of the community. He is engaged in various volunteer roles in organizations like Big Brothers/ Big Sisters and the PROP Shop. In addition to his volunteer work, Manager Ward is a licensed real estate broker and property manager. We look forward to the perspectives both managers bring, as together with the rest of the board they guide the District in its next 10-Year Management Plan.
Community prepares for changing climate
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. In Minnesota, we face risks due to increases in extreme heat, extreme rainfall, higher summertime dew points, warmer winters, and the intensity of severe storms. Proactive planning is the economically efficient route to climate adaptation, rather than reacting to the impacts of heat, storms, ice, and warm winters as they occur.
Recognizing this, the District participated in a workshop series to identify opportunities to build resilience related to local climate change. The goal was to build relationships across the community, create a shared knowledge base, and harvest potential strategies of adaptation.
You can read the full summary of the results on our website (rpbcwd.org), and within the new 10-Year Management Plan.
Master water stewards make waves
The District graduated its second cohort of Master Water Stewards in 2017. The volunteer training program equips District residents with the knowledge, skills, and network they need to become community leaders in protecting clean water. For their capstone project, two District stewards completed a shoreline restoration on Duck Lake in 2017. With the help of many volunteers, invasive species were removed, the shoreline was stabilized, and native plants were installed. The project was funded in part by a cost-share grant from the District.
Master Water Stewards also volunteer in their communities. Highlights from 2017 included a community clean-up for water in Chanhassen spearheaded by a District steward, many hours of tabling at community events, field work with our water monitoring team, and piles and piles of trash pulled from local lakes.
The Master Water Stewards is a partnership program with the Freshwater Society. Learn more about becoming a steward, or how stewards can help you in your good work at masterwaterstewards.org.
Fire station becomes a leader in groundwater conservation
Through a grant from the Metropolitan Council, the District partnered with the city of Eden Prairie to implement water conservation practices at Fire Station Two. A cistern captures and treats rainwater from the station’s roof. This can then be used for irrigating the grounds and washing fire trucks.
A cost-sharing grant from the District also supported the transition of the grounds to low-mow grasses and native plants. This type of landscaping requires less water and upkeep. Both practices also help to reduce stormwater runoff and pollution.
Signs along the trails invite visitors to explore and to get involved by taking these practices back to their homes, workplaces, and gathering spaces.