Shared stormwater facility promotes community sustainability
A formerly industrial, rapidly developing neighborhood spanning over 300 acres, Towerside District is the first designated “innovation district” in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) saw a rare opportunity to build stormwater treatment on a district scale to reduce landowner costs, implement more effective and environmentally friendly stormwater treatment, and provide public greenspace. First of its kind in the Twin Cities, the Towerside system is the result of a voluntary agreement among four property developers to manage runoff jointly, plus several years of stakeholder and planning sessions facilitated by Barr and the MWMO.
Barr’s design features interconnected components sized to collectively manage a 100-year storm event and treat the first 1.1 inches of runoff to meet Minneapolis’ stormwater standards. Two large, pollinator-friendly biofiltration basins collect and pretreat runoff. The stormwater is conveyed to a 27,615-cubic-foot underground cistern for additional treatment, including UV treatment, possibly the first application of its kind. During a severe drought in 2021, the stormwater reuse system pumped continuously, distributing approximately 100,000 gallons of irrigation water for adjacent parkland and community gardens. In the heart of Minneapolis, excavation and installation required creative phasing and careful threading through existing and potential developments and utilities. Currently supporting about $250 million in new development, the system is designed to connect with future developments.
Now a part of Minneapolis’ parks and trails system, the stormwater park provides greenspace for this growing neighborhood and offers stormwater engagement and education. Dedicated to community-focused solutions, Barr and the MWMO have modeled what can be collectively achieved for the larger Towerside Innovation District and demonstrated that public-private infrastructure partnerships can deliver greater public value.