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City's efforts to 'Go Green' praised by Met Council

Cottage Grove City Engineer Jennifer Levitt spoke to members of the Metropolitan Council last week about the benefits of the city's underground rainwater harvest system. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss1 / 2
The rainwater harvest system at the Cottage Grove City Hall reuses as much as 570,000 of recycled rainwater annually. Located under the concrete slab in the background, rainwater is stored in a 20,000-gallon tank. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss2 / 2

Going green is a concept many communities around the country are adopting. From eliminating incandescent light bulbs and composting leftover foods to installing solar panels and driving electric cars, the green movement is also sweeping across south Washington County.

In an effort to highlight one of the environmentally friendly aspects of the new $14.9 million Cottage Grove City Hall, City Engineer Jennifer Levitt hosted Metropolitan Council officials last week to talk about the underground rainwater harvest system.

"The system is rather unique," Levitt said in an interview. "The rainwater harvest system gathers the water from the roof, which is roughly an acre-worth of surface, and stores it underground for future use."

The $140,000 water filtration and harvesting system, a third of which was paid for by the South Washington Watershed District, consists of a 20,000-gallon underground tank that collects rainwater that drains from the City Hall roof. Once collected, the rainwater goes through a series of filtration phases to filter out any harmful pollutants. The micron filtration process filters out particles, some as small as a grain of sand, and then moves onto the ultraviolet filtration process where the water is disinfected.

Once treated, the recycled water is used to irrigate roughly a third of the building's 6.8-acre site.

"The city's focus is to be the new standard in environmental trends," Levitt said.

Levitt estimated that the rainwater harvest system saves as much as 570,000 gallons of water annually, a savings that keeps the aquifer water intact.

"Being able to keep the water in the aquifer for generations to come is priceless," Levitt added. "We want to go green and we want to do the right thing."