VLAWMO is excited to be a part of a new water quality effort taking place in Vadnais Heights near Kohler Meadows.
The partnership consists of VLAWMO, Midwest Floating Island, and the University of Minnesota. The purpose of the study is to see how floating island wetlands effect water quality in small storm ponds. Because all of the water within VLAWMO finds its way to Vadnais Lake, addressing water quality in all the small nooks and crannies along the way makes a difference in the water at the final destination – the lake.
So how does it work? Mimicking a natural wetland, the island is a buoyant mat that gets planted with native plants, and provides a large surface area for microbial communities to grow on. These microbial communities occur naturally, and trap and process pollutants in the water. If the microbes were like butter, the island and the plant roots would be like a cracker... providing more crackers allows more for more butter! This butter however, reduces nutrients, heavy metals, and suspended solids in the water. Because storm ponds are often heavily loaded with algae from excess nutrients such as phosphorous, the islands may be a valuable tool in tipping the scales in favor of clean water.
Additional benefits of the islands include habitat creation for pollinators, turtles, and fish. They are also made out of 100% recycled plastic.
Over the course of 2017, the University of Minnesota will be sampling the water in the storm pond indicated in the map. The pond with the island will be compared to a control pond, which will be left as is.
For more information, videos, and news on floating islands around the Minnesota and the Midwest, visit the Midwest Floating Island website.