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Belgard permeable pavers help Diamond Lake community

Award-winning watershed project increases eco-friendly practices and reduces rainwater runoff

When Diamond Lake of Minneapolis, Minn., received an "F" water quality rating, residents decided to take matters into their own hands. The nonprofit group Friends of Diamond Lake worked with Hedberg Landscaping & Masonry Supplies to hold neighborhood educational meetings to garner interest and coordinate a program that became known as the Blue Community Makeover, garnering a wave of public support and two environmental awards.

"We wanted to do a play on the 'go green' theme that was specific to reducing stormwater runoff and cleaning up the lake," said Hedberg's Tina Plant, who helped spearhead the project. "'Go Blue!' became our rally cry, and residents were proud to display signs in their yards to show they were part of the project."

With the help of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and local nonprofit Metro Blooms, the collective group developed a total of 67 Best Management Practices for 34 households and two commercial projects that garnered more than $224,000 in grant funds from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources' Clean Water Fund, defraying nearly half of the costs for the improvements.

"The goal of the project is to reduce direct stormwater runoff into Diamond Lake by 1.5 million gallons each year," Plant said.

In addition to raingardens and water collection and recycling systems, nearly 11,000 square feet of permeable pavers were installed, including a combination of pavers from the Belgard Hardscapes Environmental Collection.

"Most people don't realize the significant amount of pollution carried by stormwater runoff," said Ken O'Neill, VP of marketing, Belgard Hardscapes. "Our permeable pavers are installed over a gradient bed of gravel that filters out pollutants as the water percolates down, reducing runoff by as much as 100%. In addition, a self-sustaining home irrigation system can be easily created by adding an underground cistern and a pump, making permeable pavers the ultimate eco-friendly driveway or patio surface."

As a result of their combined efforts, the Go Blue! Diamond Lake Community Makeover project has received two environmental awards. The project received the "2011 Natural Resource Protection and Restoration Partnership of the Year" award from the Minnesota Environmental Initiative, which included a $1,000 cash prize to continue the group's work.

"We're honored to be recognized for our role in an amazing public-private-commercial partnership," said Steve Hedberg, president of Hedberg Landscaping and Masonry Supply.

In addition, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District awarded the group a "2010 Watershed Hero Outstanding Partner" award.

"By implementing these projects across the Watershed, we start to shift the norms for our area towards practices that reduce or eliminate runoff from residential properties," said Mary Martini, one of the first homeowners to jump on board the community makeover project. "Each project shows neighbors what a raingarden, permeable driveway, and rainwater capture and reuse project look like and how beautiful they are. In this way, we're taking steps to transform the status quo to a healthier use and restoration of water resources."

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