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Arlington Pascal Stormwater Improvement

Protecting a Well-Loved Community Water Resource

Como Lake is an important recreation spot for the City of Saint Paul. Surrounded by Como Park, the lake is a key feature of the North End neighborhood and well-loved by residents and visitors alike.

Water quality in Como Lake is also an indicator of broader water resource issues within the watershed. Poor water quality has caused periodic problems, such as unpleasant odors in the area around the lake. Additionally, excessive runoff has caused flooding in the immediate area surrounding Como Lake.

Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD), along with Ramsey County, the cities of Saint Paul, Falcon Heights and Roseville, have worked together to evaluate, design, construct and fund several stormwater projects in an area west of Como Lake to address these problems.

The Challenge

In urban areas like CRWD, opportunities to build stormwater improvement projects are limited due to development and density. Como 7, a subwatershed of Como Lake, drains to the lake through a pipe running beneath Como Park. During large rain events, the pipe could not handle the volume of runoff, so the City of Saint Paul initially proposed constructing a second pipe at a cost of $2.5 million – a very high cost considering the limitations of the project.

“This project is a perfect example of a community-based solution to watershed challenges. Not only does the Arlington-Pascal Stormwater Project solve flooding and water quality issues in and near Como Lake, but it also beautifies the community with a series of rain gardens, native plantings and landscaping improvements to ensure nearby residents can enjoy this important water resource for years to come.” – Forrest Kelley, Regulatory Division Manager for Capitol Region Watershed District.

The Solution

In 2005 and 2006, CRWD and its partners worked together to construct stormwater features as part of a planned street reconstruction. CRWD sought to improve stormwater management by slowing down the flow of water, capturing it to prevent flooding and pollution transport, and beautifying the surrounding neighborhood.

The project included eight rain gardens, eight underground infiltration trenches, a large, underground stormwater storage and infiltration facility (the Arlington-Hamline Underground Stormwater Storage Facility), a stormwater pond, and storm drain improvements, which eliminated the need for an expensive second pipe beneath Como Park.

As part of the project, the Como Park Regional Pond redesign created a diversion pipe to route stormwater flows from a 650-acre drainage area into an existing low point in the northwest corner of Como Golf Course. The area was regraded and expanded, and the elevation of the existing fairways was raised to prevent flooding that had long plagued golfers. In 2014, native plants were planted around the perimeter of the pond to stabilize the banks and help control geese, which contribute large amounts of waste pollution to the watershed.


CRWD conducts regular stormwater flow monitoring and sampling to quantify results, such as pollutant load reductions and infiltration rates. To date, all water quality practices combined have resulted in a projected phosphorus reduction of 155 pounds per year. Additionally, the Arlington-Hamline Underground Stormwater Storage Facility is projected to remove an additional 35 pounds of phosphorus and 32,000 pounds of solid and particulate pollution from reaching Como Lake each year.

The project earned recognition in 2007 with a Sustainable Saint Paul Water Quality award and a Golden Blooms award from St. Paul Parks and Recreation for its 2,500 square-foot rain garden at Frankson and McKinley Streets. The project also received 2008 Project of the Year honors from the Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts.

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