The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) will begin to address flooding issues and water quality in Northeast Minneapolis, thanks to $800,000 from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). The funds come from the state’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, and will be used to install a series of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) at the Columbia Golf Course in Northeast Minneapolis.
“About 75 percent of the watershed currently comes off and goes directly into the river without any kind of treatment at all associated with it,” said Stephanie Johnson, the Projects and Outreach Director for MWMO. Protecting the neighboring Mississippi River from polluted runoff, the improvements will collect and treat stormwater from 600 acres, including areas in Columbia Heights, that drain to and through the golf course.
“A large portion of Northeast Minneapolis drains through the Columbia Golf Course, and this new green infrastructure will benefit the entire community,” said MWMO Executive Director Doug Snyder, in their press release Wednesday, Jan. 2. “The project will help protect the golf course and the surrounding neighborhoods from flooding, as well as reduce pollutant loading to the Mississippi River and improve habitat by adding native vegetation.”
Led jointly by the MWMO, the City of Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the golf course improvements are part of a larger Northeast Stormwater Management Initiative. This initiative will address local stormwater issues by adding regional stormwater BMPs, modifying the city’s stormwater infrastructure, and integrating new green infrastructure in portions of Northeast Minneapolis.
Johnson said they started working on this initiative project about four years ago and can now start their first phase of implementing projects on the northern side of the golf course thanks to the grant. One of their goals is “understanding how water moves through about a twenty-one hundred acre watershed in Northeast Minneapolis, which the golf course area kind of lies right in the center of,” said Johnson.
Bioretention and Infiltration basins, rain gardens, native plants and sewer improvements are some of the projects they plan on implementing. Rain gardens consist of native shrubs, perennials, and flowers generally planted on a natural slope. They are designed to temporarily hold and soak in rain water runoff that flows from roofs, driveways, patios or lawns.
Bioretention and Infiltration basins are a type of device that is used to prevent flooding and downstream erosion, manage stormwater runoff, and improve water quality in a nearby river, stream, lake or bay. Essentially it’s a shallow artificial pond, designed to infiltrate stormwater through absorbent soils into the groundwater aquifer. The basins only release water by infiltration, evaporation or emergency overflow during flood conditions. “There are some flooding issues that happen in the watershed,” said Johnson, “so in partnership with our city, we’ve been looking for opportunities to help mitigate some of that flooding.”
According to the MWMO’s press release, the golf course BMPs have the potential to remove an estimated average of 100 pounds of total phosphorus (TP) and 20 tons of total suspended solids (TSS) each year, keeping these pollutants out of the Mississippi River. Up to 6.7 million cubic feet of stormwater could be infiltrated.
The golf course improvements are expected to begin construction in mid-2020, and Johnson said, “We are working with Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff to minimize the impacts to golf course operations during construction (phasing the work to use the off season as much as possible, etc.).” More information can be found at mwmo.org/management/planning/northeast-stormwater-management-initiative, where residents can also sign up to receive email updates.