Wright Soil and Water grant paves way for rain garden in Veterans Memorial Park to help control contaminated run-off
By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN - “A small step in the right direction” is how president of the Brooks Lake Area Association, Manda Goldsberry, describes the newly planted rain garden at Veterans Memorial Park.
The project began this fall as a way to control run-off from going into Brooks Lake from the nearby park, roadways and parking lot.
“We need to start moving toward the crystal clear water we want to swim in and enjoy,” Goldsberry said.
In a combined effort with the City of Cokato, the park board, Wright Soil and Water Conservation District, and the lake association, Brooks Lake, is getting back on track to cleaner, clearer water.
The goal of the rain garden is to direct, then collect, rain or snow melt that runs off from high places such as gutters, sidewalks, and streets.
When storm or runoff water meanders through the soil and finally into ground water, it can bring with it residue of pollutants such as gasoline or oil, traces of heavy metals, pet and animal waste, fertilizers, and insecticides.
The garden was made possible through a fully-funded grant from Wright Soil and Water Conservation District to create and build a 225-square-foot rain garden, located between the pavilion and the lake.
Last Friday, Cokato Nursery and Landscaping with help from residents at the Village Ranch, a residential group home in Cokato began planting 600 native plants to make up the rain garden.
Native plants have longer root systems, some that grow up to 16 feet into the ground, that create a natural filtration system, according to Brian Sanoski of Wright Soil and Water Conservation District.
The garden is designed to infiltrate the collected water into the ground over a 24-hour period, Sanoski explained.
Another aspect of the project was stopping the drainage from the park’s water fountains from going directly into the lake.
Instead, the drain tile stops at the rain garden, allowing for filtration of possible contaminants in the water.
Thirty years ago, Brooks Lake had its own beach.
Carl Harju, Cokato City Council and parks committee member, would like to see that made possible again.
“We need to work together to improve the lake and make it more usable for recreation and more accessible to the public,” Harju said.
The rain garden will also add aesthetic value to the park with perennials in a variety of colors, sizes, and blossom times, and will require little maintenance.
For more information on how you can get involved, or to plant your own rain garden or native plant buffer, feel free to contact Wright Soil and Water Conservation District at (763) 682-1970 or Manda Goldsberry at (320) 286-2871 for more information.
“The more we plant, the cleaner our water and our world will be,” Goldsberry said.