In 2005, South Minneapolis manufacturing firm 7-SIGMA faced a dilemma. City regulations required the company to disconnect all of its roof drains from the sanitary sewer system and also to landscape a portion of its parking lot. Judy VanCleve, 7-SIGMA’s facilities manager, saw an opportunity to solve both problems by using native plant landscaping to help manage stormwater on site.
The MWMO awarded a $25,000 grant to the Longfellow Business Association to help fund a project to rebuild 7-SIGMA’s parking lot. Barr Engineering designed a series of raingardens capable of capturing and treating the stormwater runoff from 95 percent of the parking lot as well as a portion of the building. The new landscaping takes up only 20 percent of the parking lot, and proved capable of infiltrating stormwater at a much higher rate than the engineers had assumed in their design.
The $200,000 renovation project established a new local model for stormwater management on a commercial site. Minneapolis Blooms (now Metro Blooms) recognized 7-SIGMA with the 2005 Best Watershed Friendly Garden Award and a First Place Exceptional Award.