MWMO Newsletter - March 2021 - Project Updates, Spring Yard Care, Water Quality Monitoring and More

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Mississippi Watershed Management Organization


Aerial view of construction at the Columbia Golf Course.

First Phase of Construction at North Columbia Golf Course and Park Complete

Construction crews successfully wrapped up Phase I of the stormwater and habitat improvements at the Columbia Golf Course and Park, following a busy, four-month construction period.

Phase I work included removal/abandonment of old stormsewer pipes, construction of a new, larger-capacity stormsewer, earthwork and mass grading on stormwater treatment and flood control basins, and removal of woody invasive plants.

Phase II will begin in May, and will include final grading, golf course and park restoration, new paved trail along Columbia Parkway and 5th Street, tree and shrub plantings, and seeding for permanent habitat restoration.

Learn more on our project page.

MWMO Awards Funding for Four New Action Grant Projects

Permable pavers.

Four new Action Grant projects were approved by the MWMO Board of Commissioners last week. Briefly:

  • Allina Health will receive $50,000 for a pollinator planting project at its new transportation hub at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
  • Children’s Dental Services will receive $50,000 to replace the parking lot at its Broadway Street NE location with a permeable paver system.
  • The Kingfield Neighborhood Association will receive $49,825 to install a variety of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) at a new multifamily apartment building.
  • University Baptist Church will receive $50,000 to install a series of rock swales and raingardens.

You can read the full details in our news release.

Upcoming Grant Application Deadlines

*We recently updated our Capital Project Grant application guidance and documents. Click the link for details.

New Videos Show Stormwater Monitoring in Action

MWMO staff standing next to a stormwater monitoring cabinet.

Monitoring stormwater is necessary to help us understand the effect that our urban watershed has on water quality in the Mississippi River. It’s part of our water quality monitoring program, which provides a scientific basis for projects and policies to protect our water resources.

Our new video walks you through the tools and techniques our team uses to monitor water quality and quantity at key stormwater outfalls and stormpipes in our watershed. Watch it now on YouTube.

Bonus: Right now, the team is detecting a lot of road salt coming out of stormdrains and entering the river, as you can see in this second, shorter video.

Early Spring Yard Care Dos and Don’ts

Dead plant material in a raingarden.

Spring officially begins this Saturday, March 20 (the date of the vernal equinox), but meteorological spring started early this year. Here are some dos and don’t to promote an eco-friendly spring:

  • Don’t clean up your garden yet. Pollinators are still overwintering under fallen leaves and in dead plant material. Leave them alone until temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (usually late April/early May).
  • Do clean your gutters. Clearing leaves and debris from you gutters will help keep water away from your home’s foundation. While you’re at it, redirect your downspouts away from hard surfaces to a vegetated area where stormwater can soak into the ground.
  • Do start planning your landscaping projects. Metro Blooms offers a series of workshops on resilient yards, bee lawns, and pollinator plants. And if you’re thinking of hiring a professional landscaper, do it sooner than later; their schedules fill up fast.
  • Do adopt a stormdrain. Stormdrain adopters are particularly needed this time of year to help clear clogged drains and clean up leftover sand, salt and trash before it reaches the stormsewers. Visit

Mini Maintenance Workshop: Moving Toward Spring

Want to dig deeper on spring yard care? Join us Thursday, April 1, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. as we cover spring yard care basics and try to answer all your questions. (The program is free, but registration is required.)

Adopt-a-Drain Competition Heats Up in Columbia Heights and Fridley

A cleaned stormdrain and curb.

Four north-metro communities are competing with one another to see who can adopt the most stormdrains this year.

MWMO member cities Columbia Heights and Fridley have joined Andover and Blaine in a friendly competition to see who can get the most sign-ups through the Adopt-a-Drain program, in which residents sign up to keep their local stormdrains clean and document their results.

You can join in by signing up to adopt a stormdrain in your own neighborhood — even if your community isn’t part of the competition.

Upcoming Professional Trainings

Turfgrass Maintenance with Reduced Environmental Impacts 
Tuesday, March 23 (8:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.)

MWMO in the News

The Sahan Journal wrote about the Masjid An-Nur "Eco-Mosque" project in North Minneapolis. The MWMO provided a pair of Stewardship Fund grants to help solve flooding issues and create habitat at the mosque, which has dedicated itself to environmental sustainability.

Construction wrapped up last year, and the raingardens are already soaking up the spring melt. You can learn more on our project page.

Featured Project

Eastside Maintenance Facility

Inspecting the landscaping at the Eastside Maintenance Facility.

A new and improved public works facility for the City of Minneapolis opened last year. Located in the city’s Holland Neighborhood, it includes a variety of environmentally friendly features.

The MWMO funded construction of several stormwater best management practices (BMPs) that capture and treat runoff from the site, keeping the pollutants out of the nearby Mississippi River.

Many of the employees haven’t been inside it yet, thanks to COVID-19. In February, the city released a video designed to help them become better acquainted with their future offices.

The video tour includes photos and drone footage taken by the MWMO, which showcase the facility’s innovative stormwater BMPs.