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Curtiss Pond Improvement Project

Intelligent by Nature

Imagine if technology could automatically check the weather and activate water management structures that protect neighborhoods from flooding. CRWD and the City of Falcon Heights did exactly that at Curtiss Field Pond, a small landlocked stormwater pond at Curtiss Field Park that collects runoff from approximately 22 acres of residential neighborhood, commercial property and parts of Snelling Avenue.

The Challenge

For years, Curtiss Field Pond had been prone to flooding that limited park use, damaged infrastructure and created public safety concerns. In 2011, the City asked CRWD for help with a feasibility study to determine how to limit flooding in the park. The District completed the study and investigated the costs and benefits of a range of improvements. Goals included maximizing the volume of water infiltrated by Curtiss Pond, reducing the risk of flooding and damage to the park and adjacent homes, and reducing the number of days that flooding inundates the park.

“CRWD and its partners in Falcon Heights needed a creative and technology-driven solution to address flooding in Curtiss Field Pond. After analyzing the challenges involved, we decided to design and implement a custom solution.” – Bob Fossum, Research and Monitoring Division Manager

The Solution

After three years of study, planning and design, a 390-foot network of 10-foot diameter perforated pipe was installed beneath Curtiss Field. The pipes are fed by overflow from the pond, and stormwater is delivered there to percolate into the ground. The system will reduce flooding in the park and the risk of damage to surrounding properties. CRWD and the City of Falcon Heights also installed a forecast-based control system – called OptiRTC (Real Time Controller) – in Curtiss Pond.

The system also monitors National Weather Service data through an internet connection. When the system detects a large amount of rain approaching, it opens a valve that drains the pond of previously collected water, lowering it as much as two feet to create space for more stormwater. At any time, staff can monitor the system and modify water levels in the pond remotely. The OptiRTC controller works with an underground stormwater infiltration system that was designed and installed by CRWD and City of Falcon Heights.


Since deployment in July 2015, the Curtiss Pond Improvement Project with the OptiRTC system has successfully collected stormwater runoff from the watershed and prevented flooding in the surrounding playground and residential area. Several storms that would have flooded the park before the project was built have now been fully contained within the underground system. CRWD and its partner, the City of Falcon Heights, have achieved a critical stormwater management objective within the constraints of this highly-developed area.


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