The Rice Creek Watershed District (RCWD) is seeking city approval of flood mitigation and water quality improvement plans focused on waterways in New Brighton, St. Anthony and Roseville, and has already been given the green light to move forward by the New Brighton City Council, which approved the plan at its May 27 meeting.
The plan approved by New Brighton is an amended version of a flood mitigation study, which the three cities petitioned for following flooding in July 2011 that resulted from an event RCWD representatives and others called a “super storm,” which dumped around eight inches of rain on the area in about a half day’s time.
Mirror Lake, which is in St. Anthony near Roseville, and Hansen Park in New Brighton where Hansen Pond is located, are the foci of the plans. Both Mirror Lake and Hansen Pond would be dredged to increase their stormwater storage capacity and to improve the movement of extra water out of each.
“Looking at them, they were the lowest hanging fruit,” Kyle Axtell, a water resource specialist at RCWD and project manager of the flood mitigation plan, said.
Additionally, both the lake and pond would have their existing dams replaced, the new dams allowing for the drawdown of water levels to better control flooding; some of the water from Hanson Pond could be used to irrigate nearby sports fields.
Hanson Pond would also have iron enhanced sand filters installed in it, which would help filter out phosphorous, which contributes to algae blooms. That filtering, along with the dredging, should improve the water quality in both bodies of water; they were targeted by RCWD because they could contribute both to flood mitigation and the overall water quality of the watershed.
To pay for the projects, Axtell said RCWD will rely upon the ad valorem tax it collects from the 27 cities and four counties that make up the watershed, along with some of the $3 million Clean Water Fund grant the watershed district received earlier this year.
The work at Hansen Park is estimated to cost $4.8 million, $1.54 million of which would come from the grant. For Mirror Lake, the work is estimated to cost $815,000, about three-quarters of which would come from the grant.
With the amended plan approved by the New Brighton City Council, RCWD will appear at meetings over a quick succession of days to obtain the approval of all parties involved: June 9 at the Roseville City Council; June 10 at the St. Anthony City Council; and June 11 before the watershed district’s Board of Managers. On June 13, a work plan is due to the state Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
Axtell said the work is still in the “conceptual stage” and that it would probably span from 2014 until 2018.
Along with RCWD, BWSR and the cities involved, Ramsey County Parks, the University of Minnesota and the Friends of the Mississippi River will contribute to the projects.
Mike Munzenrider can be reached at email@example.com  or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.