Medina gets preview of Minnehaha Watershed cleanup

The city of Medina is located in three watershed districts that are actively developing or implementing plans for improving water quality in area lakes. The plans require area cities to cut down on their share of pollutants, such as phosphorus and E. coli bacteria, that are entering lakes.

The Medina City Council, Tuesday, Sept. 17, got a preview of what’s coming from Becky Houdek, planner for the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. She described results of a study of lakes that either are located in Medina or receive drainage from Medina. The study is being used to develop a total maximum daily load plan for that watershed district. Under the plan, Medina will be required to reduce the amount of phosphorus from the city that is entering five lakes, a bay in Lake Minnetonka and a creek.

Medina Mayor Liz Weir frowned as she read the numbers in Houdek’s report. Medina would be required to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering School Lake by 60 pounds per year. Medina’s share of phosphorus reduction per year for other water bodies would be 131 pounds for Wolsfeld Lake, 51 pounds for Holy Name Lake, 104 pounds for Long Lake, 7 pounds for Mooney Lake, 398 pounds for Jennings Bay in Lake Minnetonka and 31-37 percent under dry or low-flow conditions in Painter Creek.

Weir wondered how Medina could afford to pay for these cleanup costs.

Houdek agreed that the phosphorus reduction goals were high. She reminded city councilors that the Minnehaha Watershed District has cost-share programs and also implements projects. Cities can apply for matching grants from the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources.

In other words, the water quality clean up requirements do not automatically come with federal or state money.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed Commission has drafted a report on the water quality study and proposed phosphorus reduction requirements for each city involved. Cities can comment through Oct. 11.

Medina already is involved in total maximum daily load plans for cleaning up Lake Sarah and Lake Independence. The plans are a tool being used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for enforcing the federal Clean Water Act. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and area watershed commissions are partnering in enforcement of the federal law in Minnesota. Medina and other area cities have some say in developing the plans and the timing. However, if the MPCA does not see sufficient results within a certain time period, it can step in and tell cities what to do.

The City Council also discussed other items related to water quality.



The City Council heard some good news from Peter Rechelbacher, who is Medina’s citizen representative to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed Commission. He said the watershed district has chosen Weir to receive a 2013 Watershed Heroes Award for her efforts in working to improve water quality in the watershed district. She will be honored at a district gala on Oct. 17.

Weir said she is not the only person who has been involved. Many others have contributed as well. She is considering nomination of Rechelbacher for an award next year.

A district news release said the district has chosen six Watershed Heroes Award winners. Weir will receive an Outstanding Contribution Award. “Elizabeth Weir has been dedicated to preserving and protecting the environment for over 30 years,” the district said. “As a founding member of the Mooney Lake Association, she has been a strong advocate for preventing stormwater runoff and AIS (aquatic invasive species) and protecting water through best management practices, including rain gardens, stormwater ponds and wetland preservation.”

The watershed district also mentioned her leadership on water issues while serving as a Medina planning commissioner, city councilor and mayor.




Medina Public Works Director Steve Scherer asked for and got City Council approval to send a letter to the Metropolitan Council supporting a proposal for extending Met Council sewer services to a location near the city of Loretto. The sewer extension would come from Maple Plain via County Road 19 and connect to the Loretto sanitary sewer system. In the process, the Loretto sewage treatment ponds would be eliminated. The Met Council would take over responsibility for maintaining the sanitary sewer lift station currently being maintained by Medina.

“The extension of the system is appropriate and important because it will serve five communities and will provide environmental benefit for Lake Independence and Spurzem Lake through the removal of the Loretto wastewater pond system,” Scherer said in the letter.

The Lake Independence total maximum daily load requires Loretto to connect to metropolitan sanitary sewers and shut down the city’s wastewater treatment ponds.

Scherer said to the council, “We’re not regional sewer providers.” Medina has been involved with sanitary sewer service with cities such as Greenfield and Independence. And Corcoran is looking for sanitary sewer service for its new developments.

Medina Planner Dusty Finke said, “This is a tremendous thing.” Currently Medina is involved in a $3 million commitment to the Elm Creek Sewer Interceptor project. The County Road 19 extension would involve a smaller commitment to a different project with possible cost sharing.

City Engineer Tom Kellogg said that the County Road 19 project could happen in 2016 “if everything falls into place.”



The City Council also:

APPROVED a resolution adopting the 2011 draft of a feasibility report for street and stormwater improvements to Tower Drive. Scherer and Kellogg said now is the time to design the project. Medina has applied for a matching grant for funding the stormwater improvements. If the city gets the grant, it could do the project in 2014. If no grant is received, the project could wait another year.

APPROVED the final plat and development agreement with U.S. Homes Corporation for the fifth addition of the Enclave of Medina single family housing development, located on Hunter Drive south of Hamel Legion Park. The City Council approved a preliminary plat for nine single family lots in August.


Contact Susan Van Cleaf at [email protected]