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Minnesota Businesses for Clean Water

Being green can save you green!


Did you know that there are more anglers and more boat owners in Minnesota than in any other state? We Minnesotans love our water. Minnesota boasts the birthplace of the mighty Mississippi River, the Boundary Waters, Lake Superior and the Wild and Scenic St. Croix River.

But, our beloved lakes and rivers are at risk.

A whopping 40% of Minnesota lakes and rivers that have been tested are impaired, meaning polluted. Rain and melting snow wash pollution off the land and into the water. The culprits - dirt, nutrients, salt, and chemicals - come from construction sites, farms, lawns, roads and even businesses.  

Happily, the solutions described below will help you to save money, reduce liability, beautify your business AND keep our lakes and rivers clean!


Low Impact Development
Cut your construction, infrastructure and maintenance costs while also protecting lakes, rivers and groundwater supplies! 
Also known as Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development (LID) uses community planning, Better Site Design, and specialized techniques to maintain the natural hydrology of a site during and after development. Bioretention, green roofs, porous pavement and trees are all components of LID.
The National Green Values™ Calculator is a tool for quickly comparing the performance, costs, and benefits of LID to conventional stormwater treatment. 
This fact sheet summarizes economic benefits of LID and the MPCA also has information about LID for Businesses.   


Better Site Design
Better Site Design means working with your site, not against it.
These manuals will tell you more:
Check out these fact sheets to learn about a few Better Site Design techniques.


Bioretention & Raingardens 

Dry up those puddles in your parking lot!Bioretention captures stormwater runoff from rooftops and parking lots in shallow landscaped depressions, then soaks it into the ground. Raingardens are a common type of bioretention.

Use the Minnesota State Stormwater Manual and Plants for Stormwater Design as reference tools for designing and installing bioretention systems. 

MN businesses using bioretention:


Green Roofs

Green roofs soak up rain and melting snow but also insulate your building and last twice as long as conventional roofs.

Learn more from the Minnesota Green Roofs Council

MN Businesses with green roofs: Phillips Eco-Enterprise Center


Porous Pavement 
Dry up your parking lot with porous concrete, asphalt and pavers that allow rainwater to pass through and soak into the ground naturally. Porous pavement needs no salt or sand in the winter and it melts ice more quickly, reducing the threat of slip and fall injuries.  
These fact sheets provide additional information:
   Porous pavement (EPA)
   Porous asphalt (Hot Mix)
   Porous asphalt (APA)


Did you know that a mature tree can intercept 1600 gallons of rainwater each year? By catching rainwater, trees keep it off the pavement and out of the stormwater system.
The Tree Benefit Calculator quantifies how much various types of trees reduce stormwater runoff, energy use and CO2 and improve air quality and property value.
For larger scale planning, the Urban Watershed Forestry Manual provides guidance on conserving and planting trees, while the City Trees manual deals specifically with trees used in ultra urban settings.





Examples to Follow
These businesses prove that being green can save you green.
Lockheed Martin - Eagan
For more Minnesota examples, see these case studies.    
Assistance Programs 
Many watershed districts offer cost-share grants for raingardens, porous pavement and features that reduce stormwater runoff. Some cities and counties have grants or tax credits as well.
The MPCA Small Business Environmental Assistance Program can help you reduce regulatory burden while staying in compliance and reducing emissions and waste. Their services are free, non-regulatory, and impose no obligations.
Your local Soil and Water Conservation District can help you design projects to control erosion and drainage problems. Many SWCDs also have cost-share grant programs. 
Permits and Regulations
Depending on your business, you may need a stormwater permit through the MPCA’s Industrial Stormwater Program. The goal of the permit program is to reduce water pollution from industrial facilities.
If you are building or expanding your business, you may also need a Construction Stormwater Permit. This permit helps to manage the dirt and pollutants that run off of construction sites when it rains.
In addition to state permits, your county, watershed district or watershed management organization may also require you to preserve wetland or shoreline buffers and install measures to treat and reduce stormwater runoff from your site.
Maintaining Outdoor Areas 
Looking for cost-saving measures that will benefit the environment? There's no better place to start than outside.
When it comes to pavement, less is better. Not only is grading, paving, curb and gutter expensive, but also parking areas can be slippery in the winter and require frequent maintenance
Beautify your landscape and trim costs for upkeep with help from the turf maintenance program. Replacing your turf with native plants and trees will save you even more money. 
Take the extra step to prevent pollution when caring for company vehicles and make litter management a habit.
Shrink your Pavement
Building a new parking area or resurfacing your lot? Consider using porous pavement to soak runoff into the ground. You'll eliminate parking lot puddles and get rid of ice in the winter.
You can also channel stormwater off the pavement and into swales, raingardens, parking lot islands and filter strips. See the bioretention section for more information.
Snow and Ice 
No one wants slippery pavement, but too much salt just washes away, killing fish and contaminating our drinking water supplies.
The Winter Parking Lot and Sidewalk Maintenance program teaches contractors when to plow, when to salt, how much to use and where to put it. Along with the workshops there are a manual and clip board pages.
Share this new video with your winter parking lot and sidewalk contractors:
Turf and Landscape Maintenance
Get a cheaper, healthier lawn that's green in more ways than one with help from the Summer Turf Maintenance Program.
For smaller businesses, the Blue Thumb Year-Round Guide to Yard Care is an easy-to-use resource.

Native LandscapingMowing, fertilizing, weeding and watering - it all costs money and it all takes time. 

Unlike turf, native plantings do not require fertilizers, herbicides or mowing, and once they're established they don't een need water! Native trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers attract birds, butterflies and wildlife and help to reduce water pollution.

If you are building or expanding your business, preserve existing woodlands, wetlands and prairie instead of replacing them with turf.

Want to replace existing turf with native landscaping? Go to www.BlueThumb.org for information on plants to use, landscaping companies, garden designs and more.

Vehicle Maintenance 
Your company vehicles are mobile advertisements for your business. Put your best foot forward with these easy and mostly free tips for preventing water pollution.
  1. Inspect vehicles regularly to prevent leaking oil and antifreeze from dirtying your driveways and washing into nearby lakes and streams.
  2. When refilling, use funnels and drip pans to avoid and contain spills. Recycle or dispose of all waste  properly - not down floor drains, sinks, or storm drains.
  3. Instead of washing your vehicles on site, take them to a commercial wash that captures detergents and recycles water.
  4. If you do wash vehicles on-site, and you have an oil/water separator in your drain, be aware that detergents can render it ineffective; therefore, wash without detergent or wash at some distance from the drain.

Stop litter in its tracks If you think litter looks bad in your parking lot, you should see the Missisippi River after it rains. All that junk washes off the pavement, into the storm sewers and onward to local lakes and rivers.

Keep your business litter free with covered trash and cigarette receptacles for customers to use and sweep up litter and animal waste before it washes away.
Store commercial materials inside or under cover where they are protected from wind and rain, cover trash barrels and discourage "drive-by" dumping by fencing in your dumpster. You'll have fewer pests, less polluted runoff, and customers will appreciate your efforts.  
Go to Keep America Beautiful for assistance preventing litter at your business.





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