Columbia Heights Library

Columbia Heights' new library incorporates a variety of landscape features that capture and treat polluted stormwater runoff.


The Columbia Heights Library, as viewed from Central Avenue.

A section of permeable pavement (foreground) and a biofiltration basin (background) at the library.

Newly planted trees line a biofiltration area next to the library's parking lot in June 2016.

A pre-treatment area on the south side of the library.

A crowd of visitors enter the new Columbia Heights Library on opening day, June 25, 2016.

Project Details

City: Columbia Heights

Type: MWMO Capital Project

Status: Completed

Timeline: 2015-2016

MWMO Funding: $600,000

Partners: City of Columbia heights, Columbia Heights Public Library, HGA Architects

Staff Contact:
Marcy Bean, PLA
Capital Projects and Stewardship Specialist
Email Marcy Bean, PLA
View Bio

The Columbia Heights Library Planning Committee’s vision for their new library included visible stormwater features that would reduce pollution and help educate visitors. The City of Columbia Heights approached the MWMO for a grant to fund the installation of several treatments, including permeable pavers, a tree trench and biofiltration basins with native plantings.

Located on a visible stretch of Central Avenue, the site will feature interpretive signs that illustrate how the stormwater features work. The library plans to incorporate the signage into an integrated pre-kindergarten curriculum that will help support the MWMO’s education and outreach goals.

Due to contaminated soil at the site, allowing stormwater runoff to soak into the ground is not an option. Instead, the runoff is treated on-site and then discharged into the stormsewer system after pollutants are removed.

During winter months, a snowmelt system built into the sidewalk will keep the site ice-free without the use of salt or deicing chemicals that could reach the stormdrains and end up in the Mississippi River.