The Inspiring Communities Program, administered by the Department of Planning and Economic Development, works to create affordable and sustainable housing in neighborhoods that have experienced high rates of foreclosure and vacancy in Saint Paul. A key component of the program’s success has been a partnership with the Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) to install rain gardens and other features at the properties to help mitigate effects of stormwater runoff. To date, 49 rain gardens have been installed and an additional 11 will be completed this summer.Each rain garden is designed to capture and infiltrate a minimum of 1/2 inch of runoff from impervious surfaces, and a minimum of one inch if there is enough green space on the property. Each development is preventing an estimated 1,500 cubic feet of stormwater runoff annually, with an estimated cumulative reduction of 90,000 cubic feet of stormwater per year.
CRWD has provided up to $2,000 in rebates, free site plan design, and technical assistance for the implementation of stormwater best management practices at Inspiring Communities properties. In addition to the rain gardens, projects have also included swales, rain barrels, and other environmentally friendly landscape features. CRWD also provides technical expertise for landscape design, supports contractors during installation of these features, and ensures the projects meet standards for the homes to receive certification through Enterprise Green Communities. CRWD values this partnership because the organization is able to provide education about rain gardens and the environment in neighborhoods that have been challenging to serve in the past due to concentrations of abandoned or vacant property.The City of Saint Paul and CRWD partnership was recently recognized as the 2013 Program of the Year by the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts.
Other key partners in the Inspiring Communities Program are the City’s Forestry Department and the Ramsey Conservation District. Forestry assesses the health of trees on project sites, offers recommendations regarding removal of invasive or unhealthy trees, and suggests preferred tree types to meet the program quota of one to two healthy trees per property. The Ramsey Conservation District has provided landscape designs for the implementation of the rain gardens.For more information about the Inspiring Communities program visit this site. CRWD offers financial and technical assistance to help businesses and homeowners build projects on their property that prevent stormwater pollution through their Stewardship Grant Program. For more information visit this site