MWMO Summer Newsletter - Project Updates, News, Yard Care Tips and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


Worker operating a skidloader in a tunnel.


Cleaning Out the Old Bassett Creek Tunnel

This month, we got a close-up glimpse of how workers are removing 1,100 tons of sediment from the Old Bassett Creek Tunnel that runs beneath Downtown and North Minneapolis. The tunnel contains several decades' worth of accumulated sediment and debris that could potentially be mobilized and flushed into the Mississippi River in the event of a heavy rainfall. Since 2012, the MWMO has been working with the City of Minneapolis to study and ultimately remove these potential pollutants from the tunnel.⠀

Workers installed a special access hatch and lid in order to insert skid loaders and other heavy equipment that allows them to collect the sediment and remove it with a crane. The sediment is then stored temporarily above-ground and allowed to dry out before being hauled away for safe disposal. This is actually the second phase of the clean-out effort; a first phase in 2018 successfully removed 935 tons of sediment from a separate section of the tunnel.

Watch our video showing how the workers clean out the tunnel and check out our photo album on Flickr. You can also visit our website to learn more about the project.

Summer Project Roundup

Construction Begins on Hoyer Heights Tree Trenches

A tree trench under construction on a residential street.

Construction has begun on a pilot project that will install a series of stormwater-absorbing tree trenches along residential streets in Hoyer Heights (part of Minneapolis’ Waite Park Neighborhood). These will be among the first stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in the city to capture and treat runoff from the street using curb cuts.

Hoyer Heights was identified as an area that would benefit from flood mitigation measures. It is also located in a subwatershed that receives very little water quality treatment prior to discharging into the Mississippi River. The city is reconstructing the area's streets and replacing its sanitary sewer lines; several of the streets are unusually wide, which provided an ideal opportunity to expand the boulevards for stormwater treatment and traffic calming.

We posted a handful of photos online and will post more details on our website soon. The project is part of the Northeast Stormwater Management Initiative, and is funded in part by a grant from the Minnesota Clean Water Fund (via the Board of Soil and Water Resources).

FamilyWise Uses Recycled Tires to Manage Runoff

An excavated pit filled with tire-derived aggregate.

A newly installed MWMO Stewardship Fund project in Minneapolis uses an innovative material in stormwater management: tire-derived aggregate (TDA). TDA has been used for years within the road construction industry, but has seen limited use in stormwater applications.

Earlier this month, an infiltration basin filled with TDA was installed beneath the parking lot at FamilyWise Services. The voids between the tire pieces have a high capacity for holding stormwater runoff, allowing for improved retention and infiltration compared to other materials. The building's roof drains and parking lot runoff are redirected into the basin and allowed to infiltrate. 

The MWMO has awarded three separate Stewardship Fund Grants to help fund stormwater improvements at FamilyWise. Learn more on our project page.

8th Street Planters Treat Runoff from Downtown Streets

A stormwater planter box on 8th Street in Downtown Minneapolis.

In June, landscapers planted the new stormwater planters on 8th Street in Downtown Minneapolis. These recessed planter boxes will soak up stormwater runoff directly from the street, infiltrating it into the ground and keeping pollutants out of stormdrains and away from the nearby Mississippi River.⠀

The trees and sedges planted in these basins have been selected for their resilience, as they will be soaking up runoff filled with pollutants like chloride (salt), which can create a challenging environment for vegetation to grow and thrive. The MWMO will be monitoring the performance of these basins as they capture and treat downtown runoff.

Learn more on our project page and see more photos on Flickr.

Downtown Skate Park Slated for Eco-Friendly Makeover

The Elliot Park Skate Plaza.

The MWMO is helping install stormwater infiltration features and a pollinator lawn at the Elliot Park Skate Plaza, which is currently being updated by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and its partners.

The updated skate plaza will be sloped such that rainwater falling on the hard surfaces will flow to a pair of bioinfiltration basins on the northwest side of the park and a permeable paver patio on the northeast side. Pre-treatment permeable pavers will be swaled with a gradual low point prior to the patio to capture the first flush of fine debris.

The project builds on knowledge and partnerships forged in a similar skate park project completed in North Minneapolis last year. You can read more on our website.

Eroding Traffic Diverter Transformed into Raingarden

A raingarden inside a traffic diverter (boulevard).

An overgrown, eroding traffic diverter in the Como Neighborhood of Minneapolis has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind raingarden thanks to the efforts of a diverse group of partners. The MWMO awarded an Action Grant for the Southeast Como Improvement Association (SECIA) to help reconstruct the diverter.

The City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board modified the existing infrastructure to accommodate the new design. A new catch basin and pipes allow water to drain into the diverter from the street. Metro Blooms installed and planted the raingarden. You can see photos of the transformation on Flickr, courtesy of Metro Blooms.

Yard Care

New MWMO Videos Cover Native Plants, Lawn Care, More

Young person removes invasive tree from a raingarden.

With our normal summer outreach programming disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, MWMO staff have been producing a series of videos and blog posts highlighting eco-friendly yard care practices. With some help from former Mississippi River Green Team members and our partners, we show you everything from how to maintain native plants to how to plant a gravel-bed tree nursery.

What videos would you like to see from us in the future? Do you have any questions about earth-friendly landscaping, such as using native plants and using rain as a resource? Drop us a note on social media or email us at


Blog Posts


Watershed Management Plan Update

The MWMO is in the process of updating its 10-year Watershed Management Plan. In September, a draft plan will be released for a 60-day public review and comment period. In the meantime, you can still provide input while the plan is being drafted. Visit our plan update page and click on the survey link to tell us about your priorities for green infrastructure, water quality and habitat.

Good Neighbor Spotlight

*Editor's note: After careful consideration, the MWMO has decided to discontinue its monthly “Good Neighbor News” email newsletter. From now on, we will highlight stories of community-led efforts to protect clean water and habitat in this, our main email newsletter.

Volunteers with face masks posing at a cleanup site.

In May, a group of Master Water Stewards and volunteers (pictured) hand-pulled weeds and performed maintenance on native plantings in the medians on Northeast Main Street in Minneapolis. Master Water Stewards Linnea Goderstad and Melissa Burton led a project to plant the medians in 2017; the project resulted in a quarter-mile of swales planted with native perennials.

We are extremely grateful to those who help keep our communities' stormwater best management practices and habitat restoration sites in good working order!

MWMO Welcomes New Staff

Over the last several months, the MWMO has been pleased to welcome several new staff members — some permanent, some temporary — to our team. We encourage you to visit our staff directory to learn about our staff members' backgrounds and areas of expertise.

  • Alicia Beattie, Capital Projects and Stewardship Specialist
  • Adam Flett, Communications and Outreach Specialist
  • Sadie Loose, Administrative and Project Support Specialist
  • John Mueller, Environmental Specialist
  • Anne Doolan, Monitoring Intern
  • Nathan Strom, Monitoring Intern

View the MWMO Staff Directory

Paddle Share is Back! Book Your Adventure Today

First-person view from a Paddle Share kayak on the Mississippi River.

The popular summer recreation program Paddle Share is back this summer, with COVID-19 protocols in place to ensure a safe paddling experience. The MWMO is once again pleased to host a Paddle Share rental kiosk at our Stormwater Park and Learning Center.

Paddle Share is a self-serve kayak program that lets participants rent a boat for several hours and paddle to a destination downriver. (It's like bike-sharing, but with boats!) Its fifth season in operation brings new routes and a new schedule to the Twin Cities community.

Learn more and book your paddling experience online at

COVID-19 Update

A computer rendering of the COVID-19 virus.

The MWMO continues to work to ensure the health and safety of our employees, partners and the public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our building remains closed to the public and our staff members are working from home whenever possible. Board meetings and other public events are being held online via web-conferencing.

We have set up a web page with information on our full COVID-19 response and policies, and will update it as the situation evolves. Read more…


Free MPCA Smart Salting Trainings (Online)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and its partners offer a variety of smart salting trainings designed to help you save money and minimize water pollution by avoiding excessive salt use in the winter. These trainings are now available online, making it easier than ever to become certified in smart salting best practices.

Whether you're a property manager, maintenance worker or plow driver, the MPCA has a training designed specifically to meet your needs. Check out the MPCA's smart salting training calendar to find a training event and date that meets your needs.