Skip to main content

May 1, 2019 CAC Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

CITIZENS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

 

Members Present

Bill Bushnell, Jerry Ciardelli, Brian Girard, Linda Jahnke, Richard Nyquist, Cassy Ordway, Peter Rechelbacher, Marc Rosenberg and John Salditt

Managers Present

Manager Kurt Rogness

Others Present

MCWD staff: Tiffany Schaufler and Darren Lochner

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

It was moved by Bushnell to approve the agenda and Nyquist provided the second.   All members approved the April agenda.

The CAC reviewed the April 3 minutes.  There was one amendment to the minutes.  Richard Nyquist noted that he was not at the April meeting and his name was removed.  Bushnell moved to approve the amended minutes and Salditt provided the second. All members approved the April minutes.

Discussion Items:
Minnehaha Creek Subwatershed Briefing - Schaufler

The purpose of this presentation was to provide an update and facilitate a discussion on initiatives happening in relationship to water management across the District and more locally in Minneapolis. The following items were the focus of the presentation:

1. MCWD’s water management approach

2. Gray’s Bay Dam partnership & 2019 spring water level update

3. Minnehaha Creek Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan

4. Evaluation of surface and groundwater interactions in South Minneapolis

Throughout the presentation staff was interested in feedback from the CAC on how the District could improve the messaging and citizen understanding on the topics.

The first part of the presentation focused on water management in the district and the historic events in the district that resulted in the formation of the watershed district in 1967 and building of the Gray’s Bay dam.  One of the first tasks of the watershed district was to develop a plan for improved water management.  After about 10 years of planning and consultation the dam was built along with an operating plan that was approved by the DNR and other partners.

One issue that has presented the District and other partners some challenges with managing water in recent years is that the period between 2013-2018 have been the wettest six-year period on record (since record keeping began in the 1870’s), with an extra year’s worth of precipitation has fallen during that time frame.  The CAC thought that this was an important fact to emphasis in all education materials.

Following the 2014 record high water levels, the District has been partnering with the National Weather Service (NWS), Hennepin County, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to assist with operations of the dam.  This partnership has been extremely helpful with predicting, managing, and monitoring the effects of changing weather, to improve flood resilience along Minnehaha Creek.  MCWD partners have appreciated this added level precision with management of the dam as well as regular communications from the watershed district.  The CAC members thought it was important to emphasize the use of sound science and partnerships throughout MCWD communications.

The CAC was also asked about what visuals, graphics, and other elements could help to tell the story.  It was suggested that staff should also try to touch the different senses and figure out multiple ways to get the message across. Some examples include:

-       Video clips (still or drone) and/or photos of staff throughout the district (i.e. weather/ monitoring stations, tributaries into Lake Minnetonka, Gray’s Bay dam, urbanized areas of Minneapolis-connecting storm drains to the outfalls, and Minnehaha Falls) would help connect people with the issue.

-       State of Minnesota precipitation map and identifying the wettest six years on record is a good image.

-       Image of watershed district and 125 square mile upper watershed and 53 square mile lower watershed emphasizes the large area that is draining and going through the Gray’s Bay dam.

The second half of the presentation also spent some time highlighting the integrated planning and collaboration in the Minnehaha Creek Subwatershed in Minneapolis between the District, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and City of Minneapolis (City) to vision and plan the future of the Minnehaha Creek corridor and surrounding areas in Minneapolis. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was developed in 2017 with the City and the MPRB. This MOU outlines shared priorities and investment strategies to improve the natural and built environments within the Minnehaha Creek subwatershed in Minneapolis. All three partners have been working together to identify opportunities for stormwater management, flood mitigation, infrastructure improvements, planned trail and recreation improvements, and regional park master planning.  One of the Master Planning efforts being led by the MPRB is the Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail (MPRT).

Initial park design concepts have been created after considering thoughts, ideas, and opinions compiled throughout the last summer and fall from public events, online surveys that gathered hundreds of comments, and discussions with staff from MCWD, City of Minneapolis and MPRB.

These concepts are not final but rather are the first draft from the design team. The CAC and project team will work throughout the summer to synthesize community feedback, revise the concepts, and work towards creating a preferred concept.

The last part of the presentation focused on the evaluation of surface and groundwater interactions in South Minneapolis. Since November 2017, the District has been participating in an evaluation to understand South Minneapolis resident’s concerns over high groundwater levels near Solomon Park and Lake Nokomis, and its impact on public and private infrastructure as well as residential structures. Because groundwater and surface water management in Minneapolis falls under several jurisdictions, an inter-agency team was formed to work in partnership to evaluate and understand what is happening. Agencies participating in this effort include the District, MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the city of Minneapolis (City), the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), and Hennepin County. The inter-agency team has also coordinated with the MN Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the Metropolitan Council, the city of Richfield, and the U.S. Geological Survey to better understand the regional significance of groundwater changes.

Throughout the past year, staff from the inter-agency team have met over 20 times to review existing data and identify data gaps where more information is needed. Here is what is known:

-       Twin Cities has experienced the wettest six-year period (2013-2018) since record keeping began in the 1870s.

-       Record rainfall is occurring outside of the growing season, when soils are thawed but vegetation is not growing and therefore not able to uptake water, which results in an increase of groundwater recharge rates.

-       Shallow bedrock geology in this area, coupled with the higher volumes of precipitation infiltrated into the shallow groundwater, is causing interaction of that groundwater with public and private infrastructure and private property.

The inter-agency team has used groundwater observation wells to better understand the groundwater system and how different aquifers may be interacting with each other and with surface waters. Data from these wells has allowed the inter-agency team to conclude that Minnehaha Creek and Lake Nokomis water levels are not principal drivers in the groundwater issues being experienced because they are not impeding the groundwater gradient. Moreover, a significant number of impacted homes west of Lake Nokomis are estimated to be at elevations up to 18 feet above the local water table. This is evidence of a potentially perched water table, which is separate from shallow groundwater connected to Lake Nokomis. The cross section diagram shared at the meeting was helpful for the CAC to better understand the water issues in this area. The CAC also thought it was important to emphasize that high water levels are being experienced throughout the metro and state, beyond the watershed district.  Presently, the District is coordinating with the University of Minnesota to do a third party review of the data and is drafting a white paper synthesis of the evaluation. The white paper synthesis and the University of Minnesota’s review will be shared with residents and policy makers.

Adopt A Drain Program agenda item was tabled until the June meeting.

 

Information Items and Updates:
CAC member updates

Ciardelli talked about his experience touring a water treatment plant in St. Louis Park.  The plant and process of filtration was interested. Other CAC members encouraged to participate in this type of tour.

Ordway highlighted the Long Lake Waters Association (LLWA) event on April 25th. The Education Summit event focused on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). There were about 85 attending the event. Ordway thanked the MCWD and other partners for supporting the event and projects with LLWA.

Rosenberg reported on a meeting with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and the Pesticide Advisory Committee. Based on recommendations by the committee the Board has agreed to reduce the use of pesticides on park properties.

Board updates – Manager Rogness
New Board of Manager appointments from Hennepin County have been made.  All CAC members received an update of Arun Hejmadi from Minneapolis and Eugene Maxwell from Hopkins joining the Board of Managers.

Staff updates – Lochner

A brief update was provided on the project developments in the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay Subwatershed. The installation of carp barriers area working well to prevent the movement of carp.  Staff is involved with removing carp at barriers.  An alum treatment was completed at the Wassermann West Pond (located on west side of Wassermann Lake) on May 1.

Bushnell made a motion to adjourn the meeting and Girard seconded.  All CAC members approved.  Meeting adjourned 8:48 p.m.

Next Meeting is Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 6:30 p.m.

Board of Manager Liaison Sherry White

Minutes or Agenda?: 
Minutes