Silver Lake Water Quality & Boat Landing Improvements


Columbia Heights, MN






Constructability Review

Environmental Compliance

Grants & Funding

Landscape Architecture

Project Management & Construction Administration



Water Resources

The city of Columbia Heights is home to Silver Lake, located in the Silver Lake TMDL. The state of Minnesota listed the lake as an impaired body of water due to water quality issues. As a result, the city hoped to make significant improvement to the site by redesigning the water quality features and the sanitary lift station, and creating new entrance drives, parking areas and boat launch.

Plans for new stormwater management facilities on the site improve the water quality by cleaning out sediment that has collected in the lake near a stormwater outlet and installing a stormceptor that prevents additional sediment from entering the lake here. Additionally, the dated sanitary lift station and associated generator building on the site were removed and replaced with a new lift station.

We determined that the best water quality treatment plan was a wet pond to provide pre-treatment and an iron-enhanced sand biofiltration basin. The old pond was fenced and overgrown. By incorporating a safety bench, the old fence could be permanently removed, significantly improving the areas aesthetics. We removed several trees infected with emerald ash borer, added native plant species in and around the filtration basin, and added bee houses.

These changes will drastically improve the removal of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) and Total Phosphorus (TP) before stormwater is discharged into Silver Lake, contributing to the effort to delist the lake. Not only are the water quality features more effective at pollutant removal, but they now provide pollinator habitat and are an overall amenity to the community.

Removal efficiencies increased from 55% to 92% for TSS and from 25% to 75% for TP

In order to improve the logistics of the current boat launch area, the existing drive and boat launch were removed and replaced with a revised drive alignment, parking lot, and boat ramp with a loading dock to improve safety and the flow of traffic and trailers. The existing situation caused vehicles with trailers difficulties while maneuvering the drive and boat ramp, making accessing the boat launch difficult and unsafe. The new design improves the alignment of the drive and boat ramp by creating more space with use of a retaining wall. The retaining wall will allow for 1 ADA boat trailer stall, 1 ADA vehicle stall, two boat trailer and installs standard parking stalls at the top of the drive.

Funding all these improvements involved finding appropriate sources, WSB worked with the city to help them identify and apply for the funding. The water quality improvement project cost nearly $415,000. We were able to obtain funding through a MPCA Point Source Implementation grant and Rice Creek Watershed District grant to cover approximately $252,000 of the cost, leaving the city responsible for about $62,000 of the total cost. The city was also able to apply for, and receive, a DNR grant to help them cover their portion.

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