By Kristina Busch
Earlier this month, New Hope was awarded the 2017 Sustainable City Award from the League of Minnesota Cities.
In 2016, the city completed its storm water improvement project for Northwood Lake, which included rain gardens, a storm water pond and a 160,000-gallon underground water reuse system and storm water treatment structure.
“We think it’s a pretty big accomplishment, so this project was obviously a big success,” said Jeff Alger, community development assistant. “We get a nice feather in the cap for New Hope and our sustainability efforts.”
Northwood Lake’s water quality had phosphorus concentrations more than four times higher than the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s water quality standards for shallow lakes in 2013.
In response, the city focused on reducing storm water sediment discharge in the lake by constructing the Jordan Avenue storm water pond, which collects about 20 acres of runoff, and the water reuse system, which works by collecting phosphorus before it enters the lake.
The system can retain water for one to two weeks in dry weather and can handle a 1-inch rain event for about 90 acres. This water is used to irrigate nearby athletic fields.
By building this structure rather than installing multiple ponds, the city was able to maintain existing parkland. Because it limits the amount of phosphorus entering the water, lake maintenance costs will be reduced.
The city projects that the water reuse system will save $10,000 in irrigation costs and produce an average phosphorus removal of 39 percent annually.
“When it rains, rather than having water just going right into the ground, by using these types of storm water management techniques, it treats the water and takes harmful sediment out of the water so that it is treated before being released,” Alger explained.
The project was completed in 2016 at the cost of $1.6 million, with funding from the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission and grants from the Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and New Hope.
The city hosted two neighborhood meetings in 2014 to discuss the project plans with residents and stakeholders.
In 2015, the city joined the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, which is necessary to be eligible for the award. Last year, the city reached step 3 of the program, which includes implementing four to eight best practices and completing high-impact best practice actions. New Hope completed 18 of 29 best practices and 71 of 175 best practice actions.
The city has no immediate plans to do anything else in the Northwood Lake area, Alger said, but will continue with the GreenStep program.
“We’re going to continue to be involved with the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program, and considering moving onto step 4 and step 5 of the program,” he said.