The Metropolitan Council’s Role in Water Quality Management
We understand that water quality and management is an important issue for many residents and the Metropolitan Council is committed to being stewards of our natural resources. Through Thrive 2040
the Metropolitan Council (Council) “has roles and responsibilities that provide a unique regional perspective for planning and management, all aimed at protecting our region’s valuable water resources.” Transit construction projects like the Southwest LRT (SWLRT) Project are only one small portion of the Council’s overarching responsibility in planning and operating systems that monitor and preserve water quality and meet the water and wastewater needs of a growing region.
SWLRT Environmental Commitments and Monitoring
The SWLRT Project’s Record of Decision (ROD), published in 2016, highlights the commitments for managing water during both construction and operation phases. The ROD’s Attachment A (A-5, A-6) highlights the commitments from Sections 3.8 – Geology and Groundwater and 3.9 – Surface Water Resources
. During the Engineering Phase of the Project, considerable consultation between the Project Office and permitting agencies took place to develop these commitments. Some of the highlighted commitments address:
- Design of water management systems
- Establishment of groundwater monitoring plans and practices
- Stormwater treatment and pollution prevention
- Restoration of conditions once activities conclude
What Permitting Agencies are Engaged?
The SWLRT Project spans multiple watersheds, and the Council has coordinated extensively with multiple agencies responsible for monitoring water quality and permitting within the corridor. Multiple agencies require permits to manage or discharge water within the SWLRT Project Corridor. They include:
In addition, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
(MPRB) monitors the water quality of Minneapolis lakes from April through October and periodically during winter months. Park Board Water Quality Specialists use special equipment in the field to monitor temperature, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and water clarity. Phytoplankton and zooplankton, microscopic plants and animals that are vital to the lake community, are sampled throughout the year. Samples are collected and brought to an independent lab for testing. Sample analysis includes a large profile of parameters, including alkalinity, nitrogen, chloride, chlorophyll-a, and phosphorus. As of May 2020, the MPRB has reported on blue-green algae blooms present in Minneapolis lakes
Primary Ways in Which Water is Handled During Construction
Water is handled primarily through the following ways, which are common for construction projects of any scope or magnitude:
- Temporary pumping is used to move water from one location to another in areas where construction activities must operate below the water line, such as constructing foundations or building tunnels. Water must be tested and treated before water is returned to the environment. Water flow must also be controlled so as not to overwhelm the existing stormwater management infrastructure. It is preferred that water is returned to an area in close proximity to where it was removed. Under certain circumstances and with prior approval, water can be discharged into a City’s storm sewer system.
- Erosion control and infiltration is used to handle both stormwater and temporary discharge of water. Erosion control is necessary to avoid excessive runoff of soils into nearby bodies of water. Swales, buffer strips and fencing are types of erosion control that manage the infiltration and flow of water.
The SWLRT Civil Construction Contractor’s Role in Water Management
The Project has a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan which the Contractor must follow. The Plan lists requirements related to stormwater management. Lunda McCrossan Joint Venture, the SWLRT Civil Construction Contractor, has developed a Groundwater Monitoring Plan that has been reviewed and approved by SWLRT Project Office staff. Additionally, the Contractor develops site-specific work plans (SSWPs) for specific locations and construction activities. In order to secure permits from the regulatory agencies listed above, the Contractor must demonstrate that they have plans and practices in place to minimize or mitigate water quality impacts.
Once activities commence, a separate Quality Management Services contractor reviews reports and performs spot checks to ensure the Civil Contractor is in compliance. Examples of information collected include general field observations and erosion conditions at discharge location, date and time of sampling, and detailed flow and monitoring results, including description of activities occurring at the time of the measurements. To establish a baseline of data, groundwater monitoring data was collected prior to the start of construction in 2019.
In the event of an incident that could adversely impact water quality, for example an atypical stormwater event or an equipment failure, the Contractor documents the incident and reports these incidents to SWLRT Construction Management staff as well as to regulatory permitting agencies.
Community Inquiries Regarding Water Quality
General questions or specific concern with activities associated with SWLRT Construction of any kind, including activities that could potentially adversely impact water quality, should be directed to the SWLRT Construction Hotline at 612-373-3933. When making a report, please make note of the date, time and location of the activity.
General questions about the conditions of a body of water can be directed to the agency which has regulatory oversight over that body of water.
What Can Residents and Businesses Do to Improve Water Quality?
We all have a role in improving water quality. Here are a few simple steps agencies recommend doing:
- Sweep up any fertilizer that lands on hard surfaces and put it on the grass.
- Sweep up grass clippings, leaves, litter and debris from the curb.
- Use less sand and salt on your sidewalk and driveway.
- Compost or mulch your leaves.
- Pick up after your pet.
- Dispose of motor oil or other automotive fluids properly. These materials can be taken to a Hennepin County drop off site, which is free of charge to residents.
More information can be found in the Key Water Information Catalogue
Water Management Agency Contact Information
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Pollution Control Authority
City of Minneapolis
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
City of St. Louis Park
City of Hopkins
City of Minnetonka
City of Eden Prairie
Minnehaha Creek Watershed District
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization
Nine Mile Creek
Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek