Type: MWMO Capital Project
MWMO Funding: $1.7 million
Partners: Minneapolis Public Schools; Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association; Edison High School; NFL Foundation & Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Spark-Y; Stantec; St. Paul Utilities; Sheehy Construction; Lazor Office; AWH Architects; Wetland Habitat Restorations
This multi-phase project transformed Thomas Edison High School in Northeast Minneapolis into a model “green campus,” with state-of-the-art stormwater best management practices (BMPs). The stormwater features were constructed to not only be effective at managing stormwater, but also to showcase innovation and for use in hands-on learning and incorporation into the school’s science curriculum. The BMPs are estimated to capture an average of 1.5 million gallons of runoff per year in an area that otherwise drains untreated to the Mississippi River.
In response to flooding that impacted the school and surrounding area in 1997, the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association (HNIA) and other community partners began pushing for improved, better-coordinated stormwater management. These efforts ultimately spawned a “Northeast Green Campus Initiative” — a collaborative effort to provide better maintenance, stormwater management, public art, and neighborhood beautification around the high school. The MWMO, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association partnered to study opportunities for stormwater management at the school and move the green campus initiative forward.
Phase I renovations included the installation of a raingarden, permeable pavers and a tree trench in the school’s parking lot. These features together are capable of capturing and treating up to 47,000 gallons of stormwater runoff at a time. The MWMO also installed monitoring equipment in the tree trench, both to collect data on the BMP’s performance as well as to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students at the school. So far, the MWMO has not observed water exiting the system; this means that the tree trench is fully absorbing all runoff from the area of the parking lot that drains to it.
Phase II of the project involved diverting runoff from the gymnasium roof, plaza and the athletic field and storing it in underground tanks so that it could be reused to irrigate the field. With a capacity of 110,900 gallons, this stormwater reuse system is anticipated to meet most or all of the athletic field’s irrigation needs in a given year. Live data from the reuse system is displayed on digital signage near the field, and is also accessible on the web.
A number of partners collaborated on the project over several years, including the MWMO, Thomas Edison High School, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Holland Neighborhood Improvement Association and the City of Minneapolis. Other key parties included Stantec, Spark-Y and Wetland Habitat Restorations (now Landbridge Ecological), which assisted in developing educational materials to bring the green campus features into the classroom.
Since construction was completed in 2016, the MWMO has worked with Edison to integrate the stormwater BMPs into the school’s educational programming. The MWMO funded a series of interpretive signs that were developed using input from students, as well as other educational materials and information that can be used in a classroom setting. Other green campus features (not funded by the MWMO) include a community garden next to the athletic field, solar panels on the roof of the school and a “solar canopy” over the plaza.