May 10, 2007 at 6:49 a.m.
But -- the good news is Chisago County's Government Center will begin a stormwater retrofit on government center land this summer, which, when completed should go a long ways toward slowing the introduction of contaminants into North Center Lake.
The County Board unanimously approved a $10,000 contribution to a project that's also getting support from Great River Greening ($35,000) and the state Board of Water and Soil Resources (amount pending). The county amount is budgeted in the water plan.
The plan calls for stormwater collection and treatment improvements to be incorporated all around the government center, which sits smack dab on the shore of North Center Lake.
The retrofit contains rain gardens, use of pervious pavers, ponding areas and tentatively a one-way street encircling the large parking lot, to make more room for natural areas.
Jerry Spetzman, County Water Plan Coordinator, said the county government should seize this opportunity and "lead by example."
Spetzman said the Great River Greening organization is active in assisting "demonstration projects" and this one would be ideal for educating visitors to the Government Center about "the value of our water resources."
The pollutants that could be kept from entering the lake-- through a complete overhaul of the government center's surrounding terrain-- are found in run-off...grease, oil, litter, sediment, leaves, etc. The government center occupies a vast portion of the penninsula in Center City (see graphic) and is the single largest contributor of run-off into North Center Lake. There's 142,000 square feet of impervious surface (where water does not soak in) at this facility. Spetzman calculated there are at least 88,000 gallons of untreated run-off generated off the county site in one rainfall event. This means about 2 million gallons of stormwater annually, just making its way directly into the lake.
Spetzman's been working on the stormwater retrofit with neighbors living next to the government center, with the Center City mayor, engineers, landscape architects and others in developing plans. The Center City Council has had periodic updates on negotiations with adjacent property owners who have a part to play in the retrofit, but there has been no need for any official city action. Mayor Wolcott commented that any part of this plan involving city streets, etc. would come before the council so the public can be heard.
The project gets started this summer on government property. The county is creating a raingarden off the law enforcement small lot.
Spetzman said the plan will be accomplished in phases. The idea is to actually increase the number of parking spaces while not adding to impervious surfaces. Hopefully by including native plantings and new landscape philosophies the county could even realize reductions in maintenance costs.
Chisago County also recently worked with the DNR and shoreline restoration program officials in planting appropriate native species on one edge of the shore that had been a formal lawn area.