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Upper Villa Park

Improving Lake Quality in Roseville

In 2012, CRWD began work with the City of Roseville to identify projects to improve the health of Lake McCarrons, one of the highest-quality recreational lakes in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Project funding was provided by a $275,000 Clean Water Partnership grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, a $360,000 Clean Water Fund grant from the Board of Water and Soil Resources, CRWD and the City of Roseville.

The Challenge

Rainwater from nearly 250 acres of land in Roseville drains through Upper Villa Park and eventually flows into Lake McCarrons. A recent downward trend in lake health led the District to study the area further and identify remedies to protect this valuable community resource. A system for capturing the pollutants transported in urban stormwater – such as phosphorus, sediment – or soil, heavy metals and petroleum products – before draining into wetlands and lakes was essential for continued environmental health and balance.

“The District pursued this project in partnership with Roseville because we began to see a decrease in Lake McCarrons’ water quality. This project represents a more holistic way of thinking about stormwater management because the system is capturing and cleaning runoff while meeting irrigation needs to maintain the ballfield. Projects like this will have a lasting impact far beyond our own watershed.” Forrest Kelley, Regulatory Division Manager for Capitol Region Watershed District.

The Solution

Completed in 2016, the District and the City built a system that collects, filters and reuses rainwater for irrigation of the softball field at Upper Villa Park behind the B-Dale Club. The system consists of two underground features, including a cistern to collect rainwater for use at the ballfield and a series of 10-foot pipes – with thousands of holes in them – that collect water and allow it to soak back into the ground. Water is cleaned as it moves through the soil, removing pollutants that would have otherwise traveled through neighborhood storm drains into the Villa Park wetlands and Lake McCarrons.

To supplement the underground infiltration system, an emerging technology called Optimized Real Time Controls (OptiRTC) helped improve the project’s effectiveness. OptiRTC uses weather forecasting from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to prepare for storms by opening a valve in the cistern and allowing the water to flow into the perforated pipes. This automated process creates space to capture and clean more rainwater.

Results

The system is expected to prevent more than 50 pounds of phosphorus from flowing into Lake McCarrons each year. Phosphorus is a nutrient and an essential element for plant and animal growth, but too much of it leads to algae blooms, often giving lakes a green soupy appearance during summer months. Harmful algae blooms can also kill wildlife and upset the ecosystem. The Upper Villa Park project has significantly reduced the amount of phosphorus and other pollutants entering Lake McCarrons and surrounding wetlands.

The system at Villa Park captures 18.7 million gallons of runoff while saving up to 1.1 million gallons of drinking water per year by reusing rainwater for irrigation. This is an equally important benefit as discussions continue about how best to manage groundwater, the primary source of drinking water for most Minnesotans.

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