“Bag #500 – Lake Hiawatha, Acrylic on Canvas 11″x14” 2021 Sean P Connaughty
We are approaching a critical time (again) for Lake Hiawatha. The Park Board appears poised to vote again on the Hiawatha Masterplan in March or April. Assistant Superintendent of MPRB Planning, Michael Schroeder has said that the MPRB and the City of Minneapolis are receiving pressure From the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to finally address the trash and other pollution issues stemming from the 43rd street pipe. The MPCA is also investigating phosphorus pollution from golf course pumping. This has added urgency and impetus to this issue. In order to be in compliance with environmental law the City and MPRB must work together to create effective storm water treatment. FOLH has for seven years advocated for storm water treatment, yet nothing has changed and the pollution problem is worse than ever. We have put forward a mighty effort over these seven years removing 9,560 lbs of plastic trash by hand. The City, The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are in support of the Hiawatha plan as an effective way to dramatically reduce pollution at Lake Hiawatha. it also restores wetland function to the area and protects homes while raising 9 holes above the ten year flood elevation to make Hiawatha Golf Course resilient to our changing climate. Lake Hiawatha is dear to our hearts and is home to 254 species of animals who rely on the Lake for survival.
PLEASE CONTACT PARK COMMISSIONERS
We would appreciate your efforts to contact park commissioners, providing written comments and personal testimony, We also hope a few volunteers will speak in person at “open time” on March 23rd. 5pm. Mark your calendars. This is when the Planning committee will meet to discuss (and possibly take a preliminary vote on) the Hiawatha Masterplan. We know that Park Commissioners respond to public feedback and we also know that advocates for saving 18 holes of golf are now activated and will likely be pressing hard to reject the plan. Additional info and contact emails for commissioners are included at the end of this message.
Add to your calendar our Earth Day Cleanup Saturday, April 23rd at Lake Hiawatha Rec Center 9-12pm
we hope to reach our milestone goal of 10,000 lbs of trash as we labor to clean up the storm water trash pollution anticipated from the spring melt this year.
We are looking forward to seeing you out at the Lake this Spring!
Sean Connaughty, and Friends of Lake Hiawatha
OPEN TIME INFO AND CONTACT EMAILS
To make it simple, here’s information on how to sign up for Open Time you must submit a request to speak by noon the day of the meeting. The website link has the request details and link for requesting to speak:
The MPRB must pump around 400 million gallons annually into Lake Hiawatha in order to keep 18 holes of golf in operation at Hiawatha Golf Course.
400 million gallons is more than the entire water volume of Lake Hiawatha. Plus an additional 107 million gallons.
Pumping causes the land to sink and the golf course is now 3-4 feet below adjacent Lake Hiawatha.
Golf course pumping discharges an estimated 434 lbs of phosphorus annually into Lake Hiawatha.
Lake Hiawatha is impaired by phosphorus pollution and bacteria.
The City and Park Board are mandated by State law to reduce phosphorus levels at Lake Hiawatha by 400 lbs annually.
THE 43rd STREET PIPE – POLLUTION
The 43rd street pipe empties the litter and pollution from 920 acres of South Minneapolis directly into Lake Hiawatha without filtration.
9,560 lbs of plastic trash has been removed from Lake Hiawatha by Friends of Lake Hiawatha volunteers. (over 600,000 pieces of plastic have been removed by hand)
The Park Board and the City of Minneapolis are co-permittees on the MS4 storm water permit regulating the discharge from the 43rd street pipe. Under the authority of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The MPCA is currently investigating pollution sources at Lake Hiawatha including pollution from golf course pumping and the 43rd street pipe.
The 43rd street pipe discharges an estimated 570 lbs of phosphorus into Lake Hiawatha annually.
The Lake Hiawatha Delta Habitat is identified by the DNR as a Regionally Significant Terrestrial and Wetland Ecological Area, and is home to rare animals and concentrated animal aggregations.
Lake Hiawatha is exceptionally biodiverse. With 254 species of animals that rely on Lake Hiawatha for survival, Including endangered and threatened species.
Wildlife at Lake Hiawatha are severely threatened by pollution.
Lake Hiawatha is a key stop for migrating waterfowl and birds on The Mississippi River Flyway.
The purpose of pumping at Hiawatha Golf Course is to keep 18 holes of golf in operation, not to protect homes. Because of the sinking of the golf course, pumping currently maintains an artificially lowered water table over dozens of acres that is three to four feet below adjacent Lake Hiawatha. Reducing pumping will restore most of the property to its natural water elevation, while still preserving nine holes of golf and protecting homes “to the same degree they are protected today”. Given updated technologies and the extensive study of the hydrology of the site, targeting reduced pumping operations for the sole purpose of protecting homes can more effectively protect low lying homes by reducing the acreage that must be dewatered to achieve the same protection homeowners experience today.
Opponents to the plan say that the current pumping operation at Lake Hiawatha offers better protection for the few low lying homes in the northwest corner of the golf course that currently experience flooded basements during flood events. They also claim that the proposed changes to pumping operations will reduce the effectiveness of this floodplain. This is not true. The plan will improve the effectiveness of the floodplain by lessening the impact of flooding. The Park Board states: “Creating more lake surface area on Hiawatha allows for better flood buffering (less bounce) from rainfalls, causing less backup upstream, allowing for the less bounce of Minnehaha Creek upstream. Greater surface area means less bounce in the lake and the creek.”
As we face a growing climate crisis, restoring wetland function to Lake Hiawatha will not only improve flood resilience but will also preserve, restore and improve our ability to capture and store carbon. If we are to reduce Green House Gas emissions it will require expanding and restoring carbon sinks to the terrestrial ecology as well as preserving existing ecologies. Wetlands are some of the largest stores of carbon on the planet.
Visitors to Lake Hiawatha Park reflect the diversity of our community. Currently pollution makes Lake Hiawatha unsafe for recreation. This is because of exceptionally high bacteria levels, frequent toxic cyanobacteria blooms, and massive quantities of trash including hazardous items such as numerous hypodermic needles, diapers, condoms, and other poisonous materials. FOLH believes that if we wish to preserve the historic Hiawatha Golf Course, it will need to be made resilient otherwise it will not last to benefit future generations. This excessive pumping is unsustainable because of continued sinking that is exacerbated by pumping.