Northern Columbia Golf Course and Park Stormwater BMPs

New stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) at the Columbia Golf Course and Park will protect water quality, reduce flooding, and improve habitat.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Capital Improvement Project

Status: Active

Timeline: 2019-2021

MWMO Funding:  Not to exceed $3,571,789 for construction, plus $586,181.00 for bidding and construction services

Partners: Board of Water and Soil ResourcesCity of MinneapolisHennepin CountyMinneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Contractors and Consultants: Minger Construction Companies, Inc. (subcontractors include Landbridge Ecological, Duininck Inc., Husky Construction, Inc.)Norby Golf Course Design; SRF Consulting (subconsultants include Applied Ecological ServicesBraun Intertec CorporationCNA Consulting Engineers)

Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment logo H Logo

Staff Contact:

Alicia Beattie
Capital Projects and Stewardship Specialist
Email Alicia Beattie
View Bio

The MWMO and its partners will construct stormsewer improvements and a series of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) on the Columbia Golf Course and Columbia Park in Northeast Minneapolis. These BMPs will treat polluted runoff from a previously untreated 612-acre drainage area of mixed urban land use. In addition to keeping pollutants out of the nearby Mississippi River, the project will reduce flooding in both the neighborhoods located within the drainage area and the golf course itself, improve habitat, and enhance golf play and other recreational opportunities.

Localized flooding been a long-time challenge for many neighborhoods in the area, and the Columbia Golf Course itself has long suffered from frequent flooding and drainage problems. A low spot on the landscape, Columbia Golf Course once contained historic Lake Sandy and remains a natural spot for water to accumulate. A 1960s-era stormsewer draining the northern half of the golf course and park is in poor and failing condition.

This project will reconstruct an existing wet pond in the northeast part of the golf course, construct a new dry basin at the multi-use athletic field in Columbia Park and a new infiltration basin in the northwest corner of the golf course, and install a new trunk stormsewer to convey stormwater from Central Avenue across the golf course and park. Native plantings will be used to restore 19 acres of habitat. Plant mixes include trees, shrubs, and a diversity of sedges, grasses, and wildflowers. Invasive woody and herbaceous species such as buckthorn and garlic mustard will be removed or controlled before seeding in spring 2021. The dry basin in the park will reduce flooding and improve playability of the field while maintaining field dimensions for rugby, soccer, and other field sports. Other golf improvements include a new layout of hole 14, raised tee boxes on hole 15, new cart path, a new back tee and improved fairway on hole 7, and improved fairway on hole 2. The course will retain the same number of holes and strokes. Norby Golf Course Design provided input to help improve playability of the course.

To lower the risk of flooding in the upstream neighborhoods, a new diversion manhole will be constructed along the trail just west of Central Avenue NE to redirect a portion of the stormwater through the park via the new stormpipe (generally flowing from east to west towards 5th Street NE). The plan is to improve the storm trunk in the neighborhood NW of the golf course in the future to reduce flooding there too. The new trunk will drain, in part, into the NW infiltration basin. Much of the stormwater will also be conveyed to the new BMPs that will remove an estimated 37 tons of sediment and 170 pounds of phosphorus each year, keeping these pollutants out of the river.

The golf course improvements are part of the larger Northeast Stormwater Management Initiative — a joint effort between the MWMO, the City of Minneapolis, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The initiative is designed to mitigate flooding, prevent polluted runoff, and improve the ecology of a 2,150-acre watershed known as the 1NE subwatershed in Northeast Minneapolis. The Northern Columbia BMPs are one of the first projects to result from the initiative; additional improvements to the golf course and within the surrounding neighborhoods will be phased in over time.


Prior to construction, the MWMO and its project partners dedicated significant staff time and funds towards developing this initiative and designing projects. The total project is estimated to cost up to $7.4 million. Of this total, $2.9 million will be reimbursed by the City of Minneapolis, $800,000 will be reimbursed through a Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) grant (via the state’s Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment), and $100,000 will be reimbursed through a Hennepin County Natural Resources Opportunity Grant. The anticipated total contribution of MWMO funds to complete this project is $3.6 million. The amenities will be on MPRB land. Allocated staff time from all partner agencies includes planning, design review, community engagement and project updates, and construction oversight.

Construction Timeline and Impacts

The golf course improvements began construction on October 26, 2020. Phase 1 of the project (October 2020 – February 2021) included removal/abandonment of the old stormsewer, construction of the new stormsewer, tunneling under the Canadian Pacific Railway, earthwork, and mass grading. Phase 2 of the project (April 2021 – August 2021) includes final grading, park and golf course restoration, and native seeding for permanent restoration. The MWMO is paying for costs associated with ecological restoration components of the project for up to four years for vegetation establishment.

Construction vehicles will be present on Columbia Parkway and Central Avenue NE. Fifth Street NE was closed approximately from October 28, 2020, through November 17, 2020, for the duration of the work since it is being used a construction staging area. The parking lot off Central Avenue NE next to the Golf Club is open. The trail will be closed on the west and north sides of the golf course from St. Anthony Parkway to the parking lot on Columbia Parkway for the duration of the project. Pedestrians are detoured to the west side of 5th Street NE up to 35th Avenue NE. Bicyclists may use 5th Street NE and Columbia Parkway (full lane). Please find the latest local street closure and detour information on the City’s webpage.

The Columbia picnic shelter and multi-purpose athletic field will be closed through July 2021. There is a temporary reduction from 18 holes to 9 holes for the 2021 season. Other holes may open before the end of the 2021 season if deemed playable. Project construction schedules were determined to minimize impacts on golf tournament play and multiuse field league play. The playground will remain closed for the duration of project, due to proximity to the construction area. After this project is complete, play equipment for younger children (on the north side of the path) will be replaced, with community engagement in fall 2021 and construction in spring 2022. Play equipment for older kids south of the path will remain. Trees have been removed; efforts were made to preserve mature native trees where possible and prune rather than remove where feasible. Tree replacement is included in the restoration plans.

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See more photos of this project on Flickr.

Columbia Golf Course and Park Stormwater BMPs Project