State awards grant to Bryn Mawr runoff project

northwest corner of Bryn Mawr Park
The Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission will build two new stormwater ponds in the northwest corner of Bryn Mawr Park in the coming years. Photo by Nate Gotlieb

A local watershed management agency has been awarded $400,000 to build a pair of stormwater ponds in Bryn Mawr Park, a city-owned park just northeast of Interstate 394.

The Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission’s grant from the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources was announced Jan. 22.

The commission wants to build the ponds in coordination with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which has plans for a $3.5 million renovation of Bryn Mawr Park’s playground and athletic fields. The ponds will collect stormwater from the nearby neighborhood and a nearby storm sewer and will filter out pollutants such as phosphorus and algae.

The treated water will run into Bassett Creek just north of the site.

“There’s currently stormwater running off from 45 acres of residential area with no treatment at all,” watershed management commission administrator Laura Jester said. “Where an opportunity comes along where we can capture some of that runoff, that’s what we like to do.”

Bassett Creek runs from Medicine Lake into Minneapolis, where it goes through an underground tunnel downtown and into the Mississippi River. The 13-mile creek collects stormwater from a 39-square-mile area that includes parts of nine cities in Hennepin County.

According to the Metropolitan Council, the creek has high levels of chloride and carries an average of 2.8 million pounds of sediment into the Mississippi River each year.

The Bryn Mawr stormwater ponds will reduce phosphorus runoff into Bassett Creek by 30 pounds a year and runoff of suspended solids, such as dirt and algae, by 10,469 pounds annually, according to the watershed management commission.

Jester said that would be a “good amount” of pollutant removal for an urban redevelopment project.

The storm ponds will be built in the northwest corner of the park, where the land is lowest in elevation. One pond will collect stormwater that runs off from the neighborhood west of the park, and the other will collect stormwater from a storm sewer along Morgan Avenue.

The commission is also hoping that the Minnesota Department of Transportation dredges the storm pond immediately south of Interstate 394 and Penn Avenue. That pond, which drains into the Morgan Avenue storm sewer, may not be working to its “fullest potential” because of sediment accumulation, according to the commission.

The storm ponds will cost around $900,000. About $500,000 will come from a tax levied on residents of the nine cities in the Bassett Creek Watershed.

Construction will start around the same time the Park Board begins its project. Design project manager Tyler Pederson said that should be either sometime in 2021 or early in 2022.

The watershed management commission’s grant was one of 52 the Board of Water & Soil Resources announced in January. Clean Water Coordinator Marcey Westrick said reducing phosphorus runoff in the metro area by 30 pounds annually would be significant.

What you can do

There are plenty of steps you can take to reduce the pollution that ends up in lakes and rivers. They include:

  • Using fertilizers sparingly and sweeping up driveways, sidewalks and gutters
  • Vegetating bare spots in your yard
  • Planting natural vegetation and practicing natural lawn care
  • Disposing of pet waste and litter in a timely matter
  • The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has more tips.