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H & H Project

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Project Description

Public Participation

Project Goals and Outcomes

Project Updates

January 18, 2001

H/H Water Quantity Component

H/H Water Quality Component

March 1, 2001

September 10, 2001

February 14, 2002

Implementation Plan


Completed 2002

Originally conceived as a modeling study of the lower watershed, the proposed project grew to encompass a study of the entire watershed. Concerns had been expressed over loading (water volume as well as nutrient/pollutant loading) to Minnehaha Creek and Lake Minnetonka, inadequate definition of floodplain zones, and the direction of the District's regulatory system. Reports of the EPA NPDES Phase II requirements that included pollutant loading limits (TMDL's) inspired the District to move forward with a study that would incorporate the necessary modeling to develop a performance based regulatory system, provide accurate elevations for floodplains along the Creek corridor and become a resource for future District water management planning.
Following an RFP process in early 2000, the Board of Managers accepted a staff recommendation on June 1, 2000 to award the contract for the project to Emmons and Olivier Resources (EOR). This section summarizes the project contentpurposes and goals, and updates of the various phases of the project.

Project Description


  • Data Collection:

The initial collection of data has been essential to the success of the other phases of the project. EOR staff has spent considerable effort collecting monitoring data, survey data, creek cross-sections, infrastructure location and elevations, precipitation data, groundwater data, 2000 digital orthophotography, and other pertinent data from the District, member cities, and other public agencies in the metro area. New data being developed as a result of this effort include:

    1. Contour elevations for the entire District (2-foot on creeks and 5-foot elsewhere)
    2. Land cover classification of the entire District

These data and other information will result in more accurate modeling outputs as well as resources for water management planning and potentially land use planning in cooperative efforts with the District's cities.

  • Customized Geographic Information System (GIS):

Efforts are being divided by sub-watershed starting in the upper watershed and working toward the lower watershed with results to be combined and analyzed on a watershed basis as a whole. After consulting with the technical advisory committee (TAC), the XP-SWMM model, a public domain model developed by the EPA, was chosen to model water quantity in the various District creeks and waterways. Analysis of these results will lead to recommendations for the updating of floodplain elevations.

  • Water Quantity Modeling:

Efforts are being divided by sub-watershed starting in the upper watershed and working toward the lower watershed with results to be combined and analyzed on a watershed basis as a whole. After consulting with the technical advisory committee (TAC), the XP-SWMM model, a public domain model developed by the EPA, was chosen to model water quantity in the various District creeks and waterways. Analysis of these results will lead to recommendations for the updating of floodplain elevations.

  • Water Quality Modeling:

Similar to water quantity, efforts in this phase will also focus on areas of similar characteristics divided between upper and lower watershed with final analysis being done on an overall watershed basis. Models being used are HSPF and PLOAD for out of lake modeling and WiLMS for in lake modeling. The Painter Creek sub-watershed has been chosen as the pilot project area to test the models before moving into other areas of the District. This area was chosen because the MCWD has collected more data in this area than in others and it drains to Jennings Bay, an area of priority interest by the Board of Managers.

The model results will become the basis for proposed loading limits to the Districts water basins. Stakeholder input will be a significant source of influence, as well. As one of the final project deliverables, the Board will receive a number of recommendations and alternatives relative to establishing a performance based regulatory system dependent on a TMDL approach. The final decision will be up to the Board as far as which approach best meets their goals for the District.

  • Groundwater Analysis:

Using existing data and adding new monitoring where necessary, groundwater analysis will be one of the inputs to the various modeling exercises. Groundwater is an important component to the overall water balance and understanding how it influences water quantity and quality is essential.

Public Participation

The public involvement component is a collaborative process that promotes stakeholder understanding, involvement and support throughout the entire project. It is designed to meet the following key objectives:
  • Maintain and enhance MCWD's working relationships
  • Capture stakeholder interest and involvement
  • Develop and enhance stakeholder understanding
  • Integrate city, county, regional and state resources

The public involvement component includes the creation of a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and Stakeholder Regional Teams.
  1. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was formed to provide input and guidance on modeling and calibration of models; data needs; analysis of model outputs.
  2. The Project Advisory Committee (PAC) was formed to act as a steering committee relative to the stakeholder groups and overall public input to the project.
  3. The Stakeholder Regional teams were organized within each of the nine regions indicated above. These teams provide input relative to the water resources in their specific areas, what they see as problems and goals relative to those resources and assist in developing an implementation plan to be incorporated into the project's Final Report.

Project Goals and Outcomes

As stated previously, the H&H project was initially expected to provide three basic outcomes:
  • Hydrologic and hydraulic analysis of the entire watershed
  • Updated floodplain maps
  • Provide the basis for developing a TMDL approach to water quality.

As the project has progressed, it has become clear that the potential uses of the resources being developed are greater than originally conceived. Some of these added benefits include:
  1. Development of a customized/integrated GIS database that includes all existing and newly developed data. This resource now increases our ability to create maps and manage data for such things as project location, sensitive areas, tracking of permits and enforcement activities, wetland impacts and mitigation sites, floodplain impacts, and pollutant loading analysis.
  2. An opportunity to use the GIS resource as a tool in partnering with cities to review land use proposals in the earliest stages of a project to implement BMP's and maximum resource protection. Stakeholder participants see this as an important step in reducing the impacts of development on natural resources in general but specifically on water resources.
  3. Ability to use the data generated to assist in determining the feasibility and benefits of proposed projects.
  4. Ability to use the data to assist in developing future capital projects. By being able to develop a ?big picture? view of the District and its resources and seeing the results of BMP implementation as provided by model outputs we can set priorities more effectively.
  5. Using the data to develop future District management plans and guide rule revisions and development. Data is being collected and analyzed on a sub-watershed basis to facilitate such uses.
  6. A resource for the permitting and enforcement program. Linking databases to maps to track permit locations and enforcement activities and the mapping of land cover and land use to guide BMP implementation are but a few of the new possibilities.

More uses will likely become evident as the project progresses and as more input is received from the stakeholder meetings.
The project is nearing the end of the first year of work. In the updates section, we provide an update on the work completed and in progress, and a review of the projected outcomes and uses of the project.
As mentioned above, one of the goals of the process is to avoid having a stakeholder group approach us late in the process and express displeasure with the results of the project or complain about not being involved. Similarly, we want to be sure that the entire Board understands what the project is, where it is going, what is being accomplished and that it is meeting or will meet the expectations of the Board's goals for this project. We request that you review this update and provide some feedback so any adjustments can be made as soon as possible.
We are confident that the project is progressing in the direction anticipated and that the final product may very well exceed all initial expectations.


January 18, 2001

The following report was extracted from the consultant's report to the District:

Data Gathering

  1. Have continuous flow data for Painter's Creek for 1996-1997 & 1999
  2. Currently have precipitation data from the Minneapolis airport and the city of Chaska. We are looking into obtaining rainfall data from 5-6 different rain gauges located throughout the watershed. Our ultimate goal would be to have rain gauges within each individual watershed.
  3. We have current and future land use for Painter's Creek in hand. Talking with from Met Council about obtaining future land use from other cities within watershed in digital format (with the exception of Tonka Bay, Shoreview, and Minnetonka Beach). EOR should be able to get this data within a week.
  4. We wrote a formal request to the Superintendent of Engineering for MPRB, for cross-sections of Minnehaha Creek taken during erosion study. To date, we have not had confirmation on obtaining these cross sections.
  5. Working with the City of Minneapolis to obtain more information from the City. We currently have 1997 flood report, FEMA cross sections of Minnehaha Creek, digital data of storm sewers, small drainage areas and 2 feet contours.

H/H Water Quantity Component

  1. We have begun to create the skeleton of Painter's Creek XP-SWMM Model. We currently have 1/3 of necessary parameters in the model.
  2. We are in the process of determining infiltration parameters for the model and the infiltration methodology to use. Green-Ampt is the recommended infiltration methodology that we are looking into.
  3. We have begun transferring GIS information into XP-SWMM automatically. Information exports from GIS and forms a text file that can be imported into XP-SWMM.
  4. We will be calibrating the model with continuous flow data from Wenck for 1996-1999 for Painter's Creek.

H/H Water Quality Component

  1. We have started the TMDL modeling process for Painter's Creek. We have developed a subwatershed and landuse shape file that will be used to get the model running. In addition, we have developed a table of land classification codes for the MLCCS so we can begin developing necessary parameters for the classifications.
  2. We will be using the land coverage information and photo interpretation information within two weeks.
  3. The TMDL modeling effort is coordinated with CH2Mhill. We expect to have the ?first draft? results of the P Load model for Painter's Creek by Feb 15. At this time, they will be able to discuss the parameters used in the model. In addition, we should be prepared to discuss the status of the input data (sources and needs) for the HSPF model.

Lake Component

We are working on all of the information made available to him including historic lake surveys from the MN DNR. We will be developing a table of in-put parameters within the next three weeks for the Phosphorus modeling. He will be using the Wisconsin Method (WiLMS) as discussed earlier. As part of the lake assessments for 15 lakes, we will also be identifying notable nitrogen limiting problem areas.

H/H Coordination With Land Cover

  1. We should be getting the Digital Ortho Quads (DOQ's) of the entire Minnehaha Creek Watershed any day now from Met Council. Our first crack of photo interpretation of the DOQ's (two weeks from now) will be used in the XP-SWMM and P-Load model for Painter's Creek. The Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCCS) for the whole watershed will be done at a level four resolution. Field verification of the photo interpretation scheduled to start in two weeks from now (February 5, 2001).
  2. Have been talking with HCD about coordinating MLCCS component of H & H study with their wetland's functions and values assessment. Discussions on taking the MLCCS to Level 5 are in process.

Field Work

We are waiting for Hennepin County to give us Bench Mark data for Painter's Creek. We should have this data within a week or two. Once we have this data, we will be going out into the field and shooting cross sections of Painter's Creek, and surveying inverts and overflows of road crossings. We will also be flagging recognizable spots for ETG (sub contractor) accuracy. This field work is scheduled to start in two weeks and will be coordinated with MLCCS work. Painter's Creek and Six Mile Creek will be flown in early spring.


We will be contacting the District (Jim Hafner) regarding installation and next steps of components of the custom GIS interface we made for MCWD.


March 1, 2001

The consultant is focusing on the Painter Creek sub-watershed as a pilot project. They are collecting data prepatory to initiating the hydraulic modeling. There should be some preliminary results in a few weeks and these will be presented to the technical advisory committee (TAC) for review and comment. Once the wrinkles have been worked out the models will be applied to other areas of the District.


September 10, 2001

  1. By the end of this month, all nine Regional Teams will have met once and three teams will have met for a second time. The regional teams have 57 active members representing business, citizen groups, residents, developers and local governments. The first two meetings are designed to introduce the project and to create an understanding about how each of the components of the project fit together. Staff has provided a basic understanding of water resource issues and initiated a list of local water quality and water quantity concerns. Stakeholder participation and enthusiasm is very positive for the project and its goals. Since this is the first time many of the participants have interfaced with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, we believe this is a valuable opportunity to share interests and develop common ground in creating innovative solutions to water quality and water quantity problems at the local community level. The relationships we are building with our stakeholder team members will be invaluable in implementing the results of this project as well as creating interest, commitment and support for other MCWD activities in the future.
  2. The hydrologic and hydraulic model construction has been completed in the Painter Creek pilot area and is currently underway in the Dutch Lake, Classen Creek, Langdon Lake, Long Lake and Six Mile Creek sub-watersheds.
  3. Hydrologic model calibration using local rainfall data has been very successful in the Painter Creek pilot area resulting in a good match between simulated and observed data. The model calibration will be tested, as recommended at the 4th TAC meeting, using new flow data collected in the spring of 2001. This exercise will test how well the model performs from season to season and will potentially facilitate additional fine-tuning to enhance performance.
  4. Water quality modeling using PLOAD and analysis of model results is being completed in the Painter Creek pilot area. Impacts of BMP's in general are being assessed in Painter Creek for the four pollutants studied (TSS, P, TN and fecal coliform). While this does not provide quantitative data for specific BMP's it does indicate, in general, how implementation of BMP's can reduce nutrient loading. Input parameters for PLOAD modeling in other sub-watersheds are being developed.
  5. Data gathering has been completed and model preparation initiated for in-lake modeling of 15 lakes in the District. This will look at nutrient loading from with in the basin itself and provide a connection to the upland modeling.
  6. The Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCCS) work is complete for the entire watershed. We now have the ability to create maps showing the mosaic of land cover throughout the District. This can be helpful in analyzing the vegetation communities potentially affected by development, or in being proactive by recognizing areas that need protection before planned development is introduced.
  7. Five-foot topography covering the entire MCWD and two-foot topography along the Painter Creek corridor has been acquired. Detailed two-foot topography along the Minnehaha Creek corridor is currently being processed. The two-foot topography allows us to better define floodplain areas and assign specific elevations to 100 year flood levels, something not found on FEMA flood insurance rate maps (FIRM).
  8. A first version of the GIS has been developed and delivered for use by District staff. With the additional information collected from the project and digitized for use in GIS we will be able to more accurately assess impacts of planned development before approval is granted for such projects; create maps to track such things as shoreline alterations, wetland impacts and mitigation, NURP ponds and their maintenance schedules, etc.; and use this as a planning tool to work with cities in planning how development should take place.


February 14, 2002

This Progress Update is organized around the Project Outcome and Schedule Matrix below, which the major areas of project work and key outcomes that will be generated. To date, the emphasis in Water Quality/Quantity Modeling has been in the Upper Watershed. Starting in February, however, modeling of both the Upper and Lower Watershed will be underway concurrently. The following describes key areas of work completed or underway for the HHPLS. Percent of work completed for both the Upper and Lower Watershed is included for each key area of work.

Public Involvement Stakeholder Meetings

Two stakeholder groups have been formed for the Lower Watershed. These Regional Teams have each met two times, and have also participated in an ?All Region Team Meeting?, where members of different Regional Teams have had an opportunity to meet and discuss both their local, and Watershed-wide, issues and concerns. Examples of issues and concerns that have been raised, and that will be investigated as part of the HHPLS, include:
  • Flooding along Minnehaha Creek downstream of 34th Street in Minneapolis
  • Sedimentation and stormwater bounce in Lake Hiawatha
  • Sedimentation/water quality impacts from Highway 100 stormwater runoff
  • Maintenance of sedimentation ponds/grit chambers
  • In-stream erosion/scour in Minnehaha Creek

In the Upper Watershed, seven Regional Teams are actively meeting. All of these Regional Teams have met three, and two Regional Teams have met four times. Many of the Upper Watershed Regional Teams also participated in the ?All Region Team Meeting?. Some of the key issues raised in the Upper Watershed that are being investigated as part of the HHPLS include:
  • Role of Wetlands as Phosphorus Source or Sink in Painter's Creek Watershed
  • Stormwater Impacts of Highway 394/12 Expansion Through Long Lake
  • Shoreline Erosion and Vegetation Management in Mound, Spring Park and Mtka Beach
  • Stormwater Management Practices in Conjunction with Reconstruction of Highway 15
  • Protection of Sensitive Wetland Communities from Stormwater Impacts

Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 30%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 50%

Watershed Data/Geographic Information System Development

All watershed data for both the Upper and Lower Watershed has been collected, organized and input into a MCWD Data Management System designed as part of the HHPLS. The MCWD Data Management System is a GIS-based system that houses Watershed Hydrodata, land use, land cover, topography, soils, geology, storm sewer infrastructure and parcels. MCWD Staff is currently using the GIS Data Management System for Watershed Planning and Permitting activities. The MCWD Data Management System will enable the Watershed and Local Communities to more efficiently manage water resources through better availability and analysis of data.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 70%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 90%

Watershed Characterization

The entire MCWD, including the Lower Watershed, has been inventoried using the Minnesota Land Cover Classification System (MLCCS). This system, recently developed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, provides a detailed description of ecological features such as native plant communities, wetland types, fish and wildlife habitat and significant areas of open space. The MLCCS also describes percent impervious and is combined with existing and 2020 land use, soils and other data to provide a detailed characterization of the Watershed. The MLCCS provides the most detailed land cover/land use mapping to date for the MCWD.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 100%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 100%

Watershed Hydrologic/Hydraulic Modeling

Modeling of both the Upper and Lower Watershed is currently underway. In the Upper Watershed modeling of Painter's Creek, Long Lake Creek, Dutch Lake, Classen Creek watersheds is complete. The H/H Model is being used to define flood elevations, evaluate channel scour and erosion, storm sewer outlet issues and the impacts of creek restoration and flood reduction efforts. The modeling team is working actively with the City of Minneapolis and other cities to identify water resource management problems and priorities.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 10%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 60%

Pollutant Loading Modeling

Water Quality Modeling is being performed at the same time and in coordination with the Water Quantity Modeling described above. Water Quality Modeling is being used to evaluate water quality impacts of urban runoff, agricultural practices and existing and historic point sources such as wastewater treatment facilities that are no longer operational. A wide range of Best Management Practices are being evaluated including small-site practices such as infiltration and rain gardens as well as regional approaches that emphasize development of greenway corridors. Within developed areas of the Lower Watershed, considerable attention is given to stormwater improvements as part of redevelopment projects. The Pollutant Loading Modeling will also help to assess the water quality benefits of such projects as the Minnehaha Creek Stream bank Stabilization Project and Minneapolis Park Board Vegetation Management Plan.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 10%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 40%

Lake Modeling

Lakes in the Lower Watershed that are being modeled include Cedar, Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis and Hiawatha. Although these lakes have been previously modeled, they are also identified by the MCWD as lakes seriously threatened by overuse and stormwater impacts. Modeling these lakes in conjunction with the Pollutant Loading Modeling will facilitate analysis of future conditions and provide a tool to analyze the impacts of lake improvement projects, stormwater ponding and will help to shape how redevelopment projects can improve lake water quality. Lakes being modeled in the upper watershed include Long, Christmas, Dutch, Langdon, Parley, Zumbra, Steiger, Wasserman, Pierson and Virginia. To date, models are complete for Long and Langdon Lakes. Models are partly complete for Christmas, Zumbra and Steiger. In-lake modeling of Jenning's Bay has also been completed to address water quality issues in the Painter's Creek Watershed.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 10%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 75%

Groundwater Analysis

Groundwater Analysis is currently being completed for the entire Watershed. Key elements of the Groundwater Analysis include construction of a Geologic Map, Groundwater Elevation Map, Groundwater Aquifer Map, Map of Infiltration Potential and evaluation of surface/groundwater interaction. In the Lower Watershed, an emphasis will be placed on the role of groundwater in the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes and groundwater gains and losses with respect to Minnehaha Creek. Significant groundwater resources such as Camp Coldwater Spring will be identified.
Percent Completion for Lower Watershed: 30%
Percent Completion for Upper Watershed: 30%

Implementation Plan

The final product of the HHPLS will be an Implementation Plan that will prescribe water and natural resource management alternatives for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed. The Implementation Plan will be one of the key outputs of the Regional Teams and will be presented to MCWD Board of Managers. If authorized by the MCWD Board of Managers, the Implementation Plan could also be presented to Cities and Townships of the Watershed.
Specifically for the Lower Watershed, it is proposed that the findings and recommendations of the HHPLS be presented to the Minneapolis, Edina and St. Louis Park City Councils to obtain further input and local support. The timeline for completion of the Draft Implementation Plan is fall of 2002. An Interim Report on the HHPLS that emphasizes results for the Painter's Creek Watershed and Jenning's Bay will be presented on February 25th to the VM Expert Panel.