Duluth Stormwater Garden Project
This project will occur at the Bayfront area of Duluth, Minnesota, a prime tourist area. At the site of Slip 2 on the Bayfront property there is a stormwater pipe that drains Interstate 35 and the downtown area. Slip 2 is located on the St. Louis River, the second largest tributary to Lake Superior and a designated Area of Concern (pollution hot spot) in the Great Lakes Basin. The land surrounding Slip 2 is a vacant Brownfield that has not been utilized or accessible to the public since its industrial history. It is this site that Sweetwater Alliance proposes to construct a Stormwater Garden.
A Stormwater Garden includes three stages of water cleansing. The first stage includes a settling pond. Sediment that has been carried from the streets will settle to the bottom of this pond, and this simple step will improve the clarity and quality of the water. Next, the water will travel through a series of wetland ponds planted with native species that take up (or breakdown) various pollutants. The third step of water cleansing comes from sculptures called flowforms. These are interconnected basins that move water in a swirling motion to oxygenate it.
There will be walkways and interpretative signs educating the public about the processes they are witnessing. There will be computerized water quality monitoring stations that will allow the public to see the improving quality of water from the first stage to the last. This will be highly educational and interactive, ecologically designed green space! The monitoring stations, water pumps and other electrical needs will be powered by solar panels creating energy that is not adding pollution to the air or water. The Bayfront area of Duluth receives 1.5 million visitors per year and the outreach and education potential of this project is enormous.