The city of Waconia and its Public Services director are getting recognition for their leadership in stormwater management.

The Carver Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) has selected Craig Eldred, Waconia’s head of Public Services, as its 2019 Outstanding Conservationist. That makes Eldred and the city one of eight finalists for the Minnesota Association of Soil & Water Conservation District’s state award for 2019. That award will be announced in December.

In making the nomination, the local SWCD indicated that under Eldred’s direction “the Waconia Public Services Division has been a leader in the metro area for municipal stormwater management.”

The city recently partnered with the SWCD, the Carver County Water Management Organization and Bayview Elementary School to create a stormwater reuse system to irrigate the ball fields at the school. After a rainfall, stormwater is collected and treated, and later used to irrigate the fields lessening the need to rely on groundwater. This project is estimated to save 22,000 gallons of water, translated into a cost savings of about $200 a day during the summer, according to the SWCD.

Under Eldred, the city also has developed other stormwater reuse facilities, including complete networks that enables businesses and private landowners to tap into the reuse system. Stormwater is again collected, stored, and reapplied to green spaces, reducing nutrient loading to downstream waterbodies, and lessens the demand on groundwater supplies. (See Sept. 20, 2019, Waconia Patriot)

The Public Services Division also led a stormwater project around Fountain Park Pond directly across from Waconia City Hall. This area services approximately 60-acres that drain directly into Lake Waconia. Contaminated sediment was removed from the pond, and the pond was expanded to provide additional stormwater runoff storage.

Best management practices also are in place around the pond, the SWCD notes, including pervious pavers in the adjacent parking lot, bioretention basins, an iron enhanced sand filter, native vegetation around the pond and rain gardens.

“This honor is more about our organization and the city as a whole,” Eldred said.

“The environment is one of the community’s priorities and our entire city staff, with support from the city council has over the years completed a great amount of work to protect our lakes and streams. Waconia is a great place to work, and it’s an honor to be part of the work that has taken place.”

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