Conserve and Preserve Blog - Archive 4

Dec. 18, 2020: Trash vs. Treasure - Holiday Edition

“It’s the thought that counts.” We all know someone who seems to embody this phrase. Someone who you love and adore and returns the sentiment. Someone that you know really put a lot of careful thought and effort into that hideous gift you just unwrapped which you are trying to pretend is the absolute most amazing thing you never knew you wanted. I mean, Meryl Streep has nothing on you at this moment. "Yes! I DID always want a hanging planter in the shape of a fish with wind chimes attached, also in the shape of fish, and a half-dead plant hanging on for dear life. (And in case you are wondering, yes, I did receive that gift one year.) So now you are left with a choice to make: what do I do with this thing!?!  

Past surveys have shown that as much as 30% of people receiving an unwanted gift throw it away! Don't be one of those people. Consider these options for your unwanted gift instead:

  • Return or exchange. After all, sometimes it really is a great gift; it’s just not the right color/size/style.
  • Donate. Remember, what is trash to you, may be treasure to someone else.  
  • Re-gift. It is ok to re-gift (see point #2)
  • Sell.  Whole internet empires have been created to help you sell your stuff. Your only challenge is to find the app you like best.

Don’t feel guilty.  That gift will find a good home, as long as that home isn’t the landfill. Happy Holidays!

-Jane Byron is the Storm Water Specialist for the City of Rosemount


Nov. 16, 2020: Consider a Low-salt Diet this Winter

November is here, and it’s time to come up with a plan of attack on the snow and ice we will be encountering this winter. But before you reach for the salt, we hope you will consider the other tools at your disposal.  

Road/sidewalk salt contains chloride. Chloride has many negative effects; it corrodes our infrastructure and vehicles, kills the grass along roadways where it is applied, and contaminates water runoff that ends up in lakes and ponds where it can be toxic for aquatic life. Surface water samples tested for chloride in Rosemount indicate that road salt is impacting our waterbodies; it takes as little as one teaspoon of salt in five gallons of water for fish, insects, and plants to feel effects. 

The City, on the recommendation of the Rosemount Environmental and Sustainability Commission, has implemented many changes in recent years to reduce its use of road salt, saving money while maintaining safety. We hope you will consider doing the same. Here’s how can you help:  

1.    Shovel, plow or blow snow before it turns to ice. Start early and try to keep up with the storm.

2.    When the pavement temperature is below 15 degrees Fahrenheit it is too cold for most salt to work. Use sand or chicken grit for traction instead.

3.    Use salt only where it is most critical, and use it sparingly. Keep about 3 inches between the grains of salt. A 12 ounce coffee cup can cover 10 sidewalk squares or a 20-foot driveway. More salt does not mean more melting, just more clean up later.  

4.    Sweep up salt, sand or chicken grit when is no longer needed and reuse it.

5.    Give salt time to work. Applying more salt will not make it work faster.

6.    Plan ahead for next year. If you have a problem spot that is continually icy, it may mean that a correction in drainage is called for. Simple fixes, like changing the direction of a roof gutter downspout, may save you time and effort next winter.  

7.    Hire a certified contractor. If you hire someone to clear your driveway, make sure they are certified in Smart Salting. 

-Vanessa Demuth is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Utility Commission 

Oct. 13, 2020: Save Energy, Save $$$ this Winter

As the weather turns cooler this fall, we gratefully open windows and turn off the air conditioning.  Such contentment, enjoying fresh air and saving money and energy. The peace is short lived, however, when we remember that heating our homes through fall and winter costs money, too. We now must strategize the best ways to keep our energy costs low, while keeping our homes comfortably warm.  But never fear, residents and businesses here in Rosemount have employed a variety of cost lowering energy saving plans in the Energy Action Plan, that we can all learn from. Plus, local energy companies promote a variety of energy and money saving practices and programs that we can all utilize. 

For long-term effective energy and cost savings, your best bet is to get a home energy audit and implement the recommended changes.  In a professional home energy audit, a walkthrough (in person or virtual) of your home is performed by a trained individual that sometimes uses special tools to look for potential energy savings.  It is best to sign up for an energy audit through your energy company.  My family and I completed an energy audit last winter. The auditor was very thorough in our inspection and carefully went over the checklist of energy saving improvements we could make, plus the potential cost savings.  When it came time to make improvements, we were able to take advantage of rebates offered by our energy company and find a contractor from a list they had compiled of recommended businesses.  While there was a wait of a few months to get our attic insulated and air sealed, we were pleased with the work.  The contractor took care of the paperwork for the rebate, and we got our check shortly thereafter.

Of course, there are many cost/energy saving practices you can put into place without going through an audit; here are some of the commonly recommended ideas:  

•    Keep thermostats at 68o F; or, install a programable thermostat that will turn the heat down during the day while you are away and at night when you are snug in bed.

•    Check around windows and doors for leaks/drafts.  Replace broken weather stripping and caulk the cracks between window frames and siding.

•    Check the furnace and/or air conditioning ductwork. Seal any leaks and insulate ductwork.  

•    Consider hiring a professional for an annual furnace inspection before the heating season begins.

•    Check your furnace filter regularly.  For those that have a hard time remembering to change a filter, there are delivery services that will bring new filters to your home on a regular basis.

•    Adjust curtains or shades throughout the day to optimize efficiency. Leave them open during the day to let in sunlight and closed at night to keep heat inside.

•    Replace lights with LED bulbs, and always turn off lights when leaving a room.

•    Whenever buying new appliances, compare energy ratings and convert to energy saving appliances.  Rebates may be available for larger appliances. 

•    Consider using the energy saving settings on appliances.

•    Turn off the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher.  Instead, open the dishwasher door just a crack right after the rinse cycle is complete.  There is enough heat inside for dishes to dry in about an hour.

These are just a few of the many energy and cost saving ideas available.  Any ideas you employ will benefit your wallet and the community in general.   Good luck with your projects!

-Katherine Koch-Laveen is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

Sept. 16, 2020: Raking for Clean Water

As the days shorten and weather cools down, it’s time to start our transition into fall. Trees will start to lose their leaves, and many of us will be spending our weekends and evenings raking. It is important to properly manage leaves because taking care of yard waste the right way also helps ensure our waterways stay clean.  Yard waste, such as leaves and grass clippings, can be washed into stormdrains when it rains.  Not only can this clog stormdrains and cause local flooding, but also, this pollution causes algea growth in local water bodies. You see, stormdrains drain directly into local lakes, wetlands, and ponds. Water collected by stormdrains is not treated, so leaves and grass clippings become a source of pollution. One bag of yard waste, like leaves and grass clippings, can contain enough phosphorus to produce 100 pounds of algae in local lakes and ponds - yuck!   

In Minnesota, it is illegal for yard waste to be disposed of in your garbage bin, but there are plenty of other options available to you for correct management of any leaves, tree trimmings, or grass clippings that may pile up from fall yardwork:

  • Have your trash hauler take it.  While you can’t put leaves in with your garbage, most haulers will pick up bagged yard waste. Make sure you check with your individual service to understand the correct procedure and any fees that may be included. Please note, state law requires that yard waste in Dakota and other metro counties be bagged in compostable bags. Compostable bags include brown paper yard waste bags and clear green plastic bags labeled as compostable. These bags are available at many department, home-improvement, and nursery stores.
  • Take it to one of several compost drop-off sites in Dakota County. 
  • Start your own compost pile. Check out the Conserve & Preserve Blog post from July or learn more on the Rosemount Composting Page.
  • Use a mulching mower and leave it on the lawn.  Mulched leaves and grass clippings left on the lawn can act as a fertilizer, which means you can skip a fertilizer treatment.

NEVER dump yard waste in easements, public parks, pond buffers, or out lots.  It can be a source of weed seeds and can block maintenance access to important infrastructure.  

Interested in protecting our local water resources? Check out these other activities you can do to protect water resources and the environment this fall. 

-Kristen Andrews is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

August 13, 2020: Growing a Healthy Lawn with Less

In these hot and steamy days if summer comes the urge to water your lawn and plants even more. Did you know that your lawn only needs about an inch of rain or irrigation water a week to stay lush and green? That means if you are watering your lawn every other day, you are probably watering it too much. In order to conserve water for other important uses (like hydrating yourself!), consider changing your irrigation system to manual and watering only when it needs it. This may be as little as once per week! 

If you have an older system you may want to think about getting an irrigation system audit. Check out this video Irrigation System Audits on how it is done. An audit will check out where you may need more or less water. It will also make sure you are not watering those places that don't need it, like a sidewalk or driveway.

Another option for an older system is purchasing a water-efficient irrigation controller. This will not only earn you a rebate from the city, but the controller itself will sense when your lawn needs water based on weather reports and stored historical data. It will automatically adjust when it needs to run. You don't even have to think about it! 

Information on the rebate for both the controller and the audit can be found on our Water Conservation page, along with other helpful water conservation tips.  Those looking to take a deeper dive into conserving lawn irrigation water this summer can also participate in a free webinar series offered by the University of Minnesota and Metropolitan Council - Watering Wisdom: Growing a Healthy Lawn with Less Water.   

-Kim Ciresi is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission

July 16, 2020: Recycling Your Food Scraps

Ah summer.  Nothing says summer like fresh vegetables from the garden or farmers market.  But when you’ve finished making your culinary masterpiece, what should you do with all the odds and ends left over?  Cucumber peels, the top of the tomato, the nub of stock from the head of lettuce?  A third of our trash is made of organics materials like food scraps. Organics are any item that came from a plant or animal that will turn into a soil-like material called compost.   Finished compost is rich in plant food, holds more water than regular soil, and lessens the need for fertilizers and weed killers. It can be used in your yard or garden.

Curbside pick-up of organics from households is not yet available in Rosemount, but there are still some great options to reduce what you put in the trash.

1.    Compost at home.  Composting at home is easier than you think.  You can improve your soil when you use your finished compost.  Microbes need the right ingredients to create good compost; learn what you can and cannot put in your backyard compost bins. Rosemount code allows residents to have backyard compost bins, but they must be located in the rear of the yard at least 10 feet from property lines.  

2.    Drop off sites. There are now five drop off sites where Dakota County residents can drop off their food scraps, including a wider range of food types such as meat and dairy products that should not be put in backyard compost bins. Drop off is free. Sign up to participate or learn more about Dakota County Organics Drop-off.  

Never put food scraps in with regular curbside recycling because it contaminates materials at the recycling facility. Visit Rosemount’s composting page for more tips and tricks.  And if you are looking for someplace to experience that fresh taste of summer, the St. Paul Farmer’s market will be the Rosemount Community Center on Tuesdays (1 - 5 p.m.) and Saturdays (8 a.m. - 1 p.m.) through September 26.

-Renee Burman is a Commissioner on the Rosemount Environment and Sustainability Commission 

August 26, 2019

Wow Rosemount, how time flies. I am here to say goodbye, but mostly thank you! My service year for the MN GreenCorps wrapped up on Wednesday, August 21. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to serve in such a welcoming, vibrant, and joyful community.  

From bringing goats to Central Park, to installing a raingarden at Rosemount High School, to orchestrating a stormwater mural at the Splash Pad, every project has been met with open arms and wonderful community support.

Rosemount will always be in my heart and I hope you have learned and grown with me along the way. Thank you!

If you’d like to learn more about how you can give back to your community check out these great pages: 

MN GreenCorps:


Volunteering for Rosemount:

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

August 14, 2019

Hi, Rosemount! I am so happy to announce that our storm drain mural is finished and installed. The mural features mythical sea creatures, a giant polka dotted whale, a character straight out of the 1950s musical Singing in the Rain, blooming sunflowers, and more, all woven together by a rainbow. The rainbow leads you from the basin on 145th Street, to the west side of the parking lot, to the splash pad in Central Park. 

Photo of rainbow mural near sewer

Photo of rainbow and figures painted near sewer

Photo of mural near splash pad

Come down to the park and follow the rainbow from beginning to end. Bring your friends and family and talk to them about what you all do to help keep our lakes and rivers clean and pollution out of the storm drains. Our creatures, mythical and real, depend on you! 

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

July 24, 2019

Happy Leprechaun Days, Rosemount!

Wow, July is flying by! Have a great time celebrating summer with your friends and family this week. Hope the good weather has you outside!

As you walk around the town, take a look at all the wonderful things that are happening above ground, and also beneath your feet. Do you see those storm drains over there? As I’ve mentioned before, those drains are linked up to a wonderful underground system of pipes! It’s a veritable hidden river system. Those drains take rain water from the streets and parks and carry them into our lakes and rivers. Sounds magical until you realize that water isn’t the only thing going down those drains! The water can pick up and mobilize pet waste, trash, sediment, grass clippings, fertilizer, and other things that are laying on our streets and sidewalks.

Graphic showing path of water runoff

There is a lot going on in our day to day, and it’s easy to forget things along the way. We here in Rosemount Public Works want to help remind you of our storm drain super water highway in a creative way: with stormwater murals!  

A mural, painted on the ground next to a stormdrain, can serve as a wonderful way to create conversations around where water goes, to keep you and your family thinking about water and water pollution, and hopefully help you become anti-pollution warriors! Telling your friend to pick up that litter they dropped, or remembering to pick up after your pets and your lawn clippings.  

The stormwater mural will be painted in Central Park near our splash pad! Keep an eye out the first two weekends in August for the mural artist hard at work out there. Stay tuned to our social media pages for more updates as the art unfolds!

Using art to engage and inspire the public is just one way we are helping Rosemount be the cleanest, healthiest, and most beautiful city it can be! Got any other water pollution prevention suggestions for us? Shoot me an email!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

July 10, 2019

Graphic showing people high-fiving for adopting a storm drain

Happy July, Rosemount!

Hope your lawns and gardens are lush and flowering. All this rain has been so helpful to our plants! But rain that falls in urban settings can actually be bad for our natural world. Rain picks up debris (like grass clippings, leaves, fertilizer, oil, road salt, and pet waste) and carries this debris into our storm drains, which drain to our ponds, lakes, rivers, and eventually into our oceans.

You can help! The Vermillion River Watershed JPO has partnered with Clean Water MN on a citizen engagement program to help stop this water pollution. 

It’s called “Adopt a Drain”! Volunteer fifteen minutes, twice a month to clean up drains in your neighborhood and to help reduce water pollution. You can learn more about the program here:

And keep your eye out for another exciting project unfolding in Rosemount this summer: our stormwater drain education mural! 

  • Vermillion River Watershed JPO

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

July 2, 2019

Rosemount’s first prescribed goat grazing was a huge success!

Thank you to everyone who came down to say hi to our quirky little workers. It’s been quite a transformation to see the buckthorn and garlic mustard stripped clean by hungry goats! Take a look at some of the before and after photos below: 

Photo of before and after goat treatment in woods

Photo of before and after goat treatment near park path

Photo of before and after goat treatment on hill

Some things to note for the future:

The goats did an excellent job of munching down the invasive plants. It may look like there isn’t a lot going on but now the native plants that are laying dormant will have a chance to get some sunlight and nutrients and sprout up this summer. The goats were able to do their work without raising big smoke plumes or affecting air quality, all while laying down fertilizer and removing the invasive seeds from the seed bank, so go eco-goats!  

Photo of goat on hill

But there is no "one shot and done" method for vegetation control! 

The buckthorn and other invasive plants will try to come back for round two, but we will be waiting for the emergence, and fighting back! Watch out for the next phases of our plan. Who knows? Maybe the goats will be back again, too!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

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