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Becoming a 'Master Water Steward'

Becoming a "Master Water Steward" can be as simple as creating a rain garden.

MINNEAPOLIS - Looking at Roger Snyder’s home, you might not realize it’s part of a clean water project called the Master Water Stewards program.

"It’s a volunteer program, very similar to Master Gardeners or Master Naturalists, and it’s really a way to train volunteers to be leaders in their communities in protecting their waters," said Leslie Yetka with Freshwater Society. “Whether that’s surface water and helping to clean our lakes and streams or protect our drinking water that comes out of the faucet."

Master Water Steward Grace Sheely helped Roger Snyder with his clean water project, which includes a rain garden.

“In 2014, I got to meet Roger because he became interested about changing his yard and this area was a driveway and turned it into a rain water garden," Sheely said. "Roger put in a low water grass in an area he wanted his grandchildren to be able to play in. And so this is fescue seed, it doesn’t look any different than regular grass. It’s very deep rooted grass that he can not water and it returns to beautiful green."

The goal of these projects is to reduce pollutants from storm water runoff and allow more water to soak into the ground or soil before running into storm sewer systems.

If you decide to have one of these projects in your home, Sheely says there’s an art to them.

“There is really engineering calculation, so you do not create a mosquito pond. If you do not do it properly and create a garden that doesn’t work well as a rain garden,” said Sheely.

“There was definitely a formula that they were able to calculate based on the roof size, we have down spouts on either side of the former garage, there’s one here, that goes directly onto the rocks into the garden,” said Snyder.

The Freshwater Society has trained more than 270 volunteers since they started six years ago.

They teach them all they need to know about clean water, projects and awareness, as well as how to get funding for these projects.

“So this program is really crucial, engaging everybody in water protection and really helping citizens understand what role they can play to protect water, given the skills and tools needed to work with their neighbors, schools, businesses, so really from a grassroots level we can clean our lakes, rivers and protect our drinking water,” said Yetka.

And it all adds up to make sure our waters are clean for years to come.

To be considered for the program, Master Water Stewards must:

Applications are due Sept, 14, 2018. For more information about the Master Water Steward program and to apply, go to masterwaterstewards.org.