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Clean Water Projects at CHS Field

Conservation Through Collaboration

CHS Field – the home of the Saint Paul Saints minor league baseball team – rises just steps from the Mississippi River in the city’s historic Lowertown neighborhood. Hosting more than 400,000 visitors per year, CHS Field requires large amounts of water for irrigation, drinking and other purposes. To reduce water use as well as pollution runoff flowing to the river, CRWD, the City of Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Saints and the Metropolitan Council collaborated to create unique solutions for water conservation.

The Challenge

Like most land within the District, CHS Field lies within a high-density built-up area in the heart of Downtown Saint Paul. With population on the rise, Minnesota’s groundwater supplies continue to decline and stormwater runoff pollutes local lakes and the Mississippi River. Striking the right balance between the needs of the team, project partners, neighborhood and its surrounding watershed was critical for project success. Other challenges included a fast-paced design/build process, a lack of state guidance governing reuse and multiple agencies and jurisdictions overseeing different aspects of the project.

“There were so many challenges to incorporating stormwater management into CHS Field, it couldn’t have happened without the strong partnerships between CRWD, the City, Met Council, and the Saints. The ballpark demonstrates how water conservation can be achieved when people make it a priority, and are willing to think creatively.” – Nate Zwonitzer, Project Manager

The Solution

CHS Field uses multiple best management practices (BMPs) to achieve its goal of water conservation and stormwater pollution prevention.

Rooftop design is a simple and cost-effective way to collect rainwater. Since CHS Field doesn’t have a lot of roof cover, the adjacent Metropolitan Council Green Line light rail Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) roof was used as a water supply. A pipe allows rainwater to flow from a three-quarter-acre portion of the OMF roof to a 27,000-gallon steel cistern tank below the ballpark concourse. Harvested rainwater is then treated and used to irrigate the playing field and supply flushing water for 13 of the ballpark’s public toilets.

CHS Field also includes a number of stormwater control and filtering features, including rain gardens, planted swales, underground sand filters and tree trenches that help to slow, capture and clean stormwater of pollutants that can impact water quality. These visible features are explained to the public in a series of interpretive displays around and throughout the ballpark, giving visitors insight about how we can protect our water resources.

Results

Clean water improvements at CHS Field will help reduce water consumption at the ballpark by 450,000 gallons per year, reduce total suspended solids in stormwater runoff by 90 percent and save ballpark operators at least $1,600 in water-related expenses. In April 2015, CHS Field clean water project partners Capitol Region Watershed District, the Metropolitan Council and City of Saint Paul received Freshwater Society’s Clean Water Champion Award for their efforts. Other awards for the ballpark include: Best New Ballpark 2015 (Ballpark Digest), Environmental Impact Award (MN Brownfields), Sustainable Saint Paul (City of Saint Paul) and an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects.

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