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Water quality and solar energy projects

You may have heard the phrase “all drains lead to the ocean.” Although this is true, the water does not follow as direct a path to the ocean as a lost Clownfish might hope. The water that flows through our drains must first be cleaned in order to support a healthy environment and improve the quality of larger bodies of water, and our solar energy projects play an important role. 

Solar energy projects improve the environment in several ways. Beyond being a clean source of energy and making the energy grid more reliability, the native grasses and seed mixes that we plant at solar farms reduce storm water runoff and erosion while providing a habitat for a variety of pollinators, birds and other wildlife.  

These prairie grasses and plants also have a better root structure that naturally enhances groundwater filtration, reducing the amount of pollutant in the groundwater that ends up in local bodies of water.  

Pollutants in our water come from various sources, such as agriculture, sewage treatment plants and urban storm water. They can be harmful to the environment and aquatic ecosystems. However, one source of pollution can be minimized by another source which contributes cleaner water to a large body of water. This is known as water quality trading. 

 Two key benefits of water quality trading are: 

  1. It helps local facilities repurpose funds that would otherwise be used for expensive filtration systems and annual maintenance. 
  2. It reduces carbon emissions and flood potential, controls erosion and nourishes lush wildlife habitats. 

Alliant Energy plans to use water quality trading to ensure a healthier environment, improve the overall quality of local bodies of water and support wildlife conservation in the communities we serve. 

Learn more about water quality trading from the Iowa and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources.  

Grant Barton is a Communications Partner with a passion for sustainability and eco-friendly city planning. He has a diverse background in engineering, politics and international communications and hopes to apply this experience when writing and breaking down complex topics related to Alliant Energy's Clean Energy Future plans.

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