Wetlands in VLAWMO were formed 9,000-12,000 years ago by glacial activity. As the glaciers receded, depressions and sediment were left on the land. Many of the depressions were filled with water if the drainage in the area was poor, or if the land surface was close to the water table. These areas of land are what we now call wetlands.
A wetland is an area where water either covers the soil or is present at or near the surface of the soil. Water can be present continuously or just part of the year to create wetland conditions, influencing the plants, soil, and hydrology in the area.
VLAWMO has many low-lying areas that create marshes or bogs. Tamarack trees were once abundant in the area, and bordered the marshes and bogs. Early settlers, such as the Vadnais and Garceau families, used the tamarack trees to build their homes.
More than 50% of Minnesota contains shallow groundwater, a condition where a high groundwater table (saturated soil) is near the land’s surface, often accompanying a wetland. Unlike deep ground water, shallow groundwater moves according to gravity along the earth’s surface. Soil exposed to shallow groundwater becomes anaerobic, or what’s called hydric. While the state of the water table changes year to year depending on rainfall and surface runoff, hydric soils remain for many years after shallow groundwater has shifted. This is why may properties in VLAWMO experience difficulties with soggy yards and flooding. During a wet year with high rainfall, hydric soils quickly function as they once did – as a wetland.
Diagram courtesy of USGS
But don’t fret! It’s possible to be at peace with our groundwater, enjoy your yard, and still be of help to our shared water resources. With some planning, patience, and flexibility, VLAWMO is here to help create solutions.
Either of these solutions, or a combination of the two, may be what works best for you. Your yard is special, and should be treated as such. Working with your topography, drainage, and personal preferences, VLAWMO can provide technical advice and cost-share funding to help along the way.
History of Drainage in VLAWMO:
The issues we face today are a reflection of our history with water. Understanding where we’ve been helps us face today’s challenges. See the BWSR history and DNR history web pages for more on this topic.