Flooding in the Fulton Neighborhood
Since May 2001, Fulton residents have been discussing how to best reduce flooding in their neighborhood. Due to neighborhood concerns about the plan the City of Minneapolis is proposing to eliminate the problem, the Council Office and the Fulton Neighborhood Assoc. have appointed a task force of concerned residents to study the issue, discuss residents’ concerns, and consult with appropriate staff from various jurisdictions. They will then present their findings and make recommendations to the neighbors and City on how they feel this issue should be resolved.
The page provides background on this issue; outlines al l the different strategies the City of Minneapolis Public Works has tested in search of an effective mitigation plan; illustrates the flooding through pictures provided by affected residents; and keeps concerned residents up to date on the work of the appointed task force.
If you have additional questions about this issue, please feel free to contact the Ward office.
During large rainstorms those events commonly referred to as 10 100 year events storm water in the area within the rough boundaries of Zenith to Chowen Aves. and 50 th to 52 nd Sts. is unable to enter the existing sewer system. Instead, the water floods streets, sidewalks, alleys, and some yards and homes.
This flooding is the result of a lack of capacity within the existing sewer system. Storm water in Fulton drains to Lake Harriet via an existing pipe network. During heavy storms the capacity of the pipes north of 50 th St. is maximized. These pipes are unable to accept water from south of 50 th St. Consequently, since that water cannot enter the pipes it floods back into streets, alleys, yards, and homes.
July 1997 - The City of Minneapolis experienced a series of rainstorms that overburdened the City’s stormwater drainage system and caused back-ups into the sanitary sewage system; saturation of the soils; and overfill of lakes and streams.
October 1997 – The City of Minneapolis identified the most severe flood locations in the city and developed a mitigation plan. Locations selected for mitigation were based on:
Problem frequency – frequency of flooding or sewer back-ups.
1. Proposal effectiveness – extent to which proposal will alleviate problem.
2. Prior commitment – extent proposal continues a previous commitment to a project.
3. Coordination – extent proposal could be coordinated with other planned construction.
4. Problem magnitude – severity and extent of flooding or sewer back-ups, danger to public health, and property damage.
5. Effect on tax base – negative effect if land acquisition were required, positive if storm drains are upgraded and would allow for new developments.
6. Proposal costs – cost/benefit of project compared to other storm drain projects.
September 1999 - The Department of Public Work proposed to construct a new sewer pipe that would accept the excess water that cannot enter the existing pipe system. This new pipe would flow directly to Minnehaha Creek.
The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District – which has sole authority over the Creek – informed the City that it believed this solution increased the threat of flooding downstream and it would not issue permits to allow water to drain from the proposed pipe to the Creek. Over the last two years, the Watershed District has maintained this position. Therefore, the 1999 solution is not viable.
1999 to Present - Public Works - Sewer Design staff and a private consultant have modeled 15 different scenarios to eliminate the flooding. To be considered a viable plan, a proposal had to:
- Include new storm drain pipes and/or other capacity solutions that could carry water in a 10 year event, and eliminate flooding from homes in a 100 year event.
- Be within the $2 million budget projected to mitigate the problem efficiently.
- Pass all regulatory requirements.
Of the 15 models studied only one met the above criteria – the one introduced on May 23. The models included everything from doing nothing to eliminating a block of homes. All 15 of the models are available at this website.
A key challenge to finding a workable solution is that the neighborhood is virtually flat. Between the high point at 52 nd and Chowen to Lake Harriet a mile away, the elevation change is 10 feet. This lack of fall for water to flow eliminates many solutions.
The proposed design introduced to residents on May 23 is:
- Install a 600’ x 12’ x 5’ tank on the 5000 block of Chowen. This is the low spot of the flooding and the point at which most of the water passes to head to Lake Harriet.
- Install 2 300 x 12 x 6 tanks - one on 51 st between Zenith and Abbott and one on 51 st between Beard and Chowen.
- Install new 36" pipes on 51 st between Abbott and Beard and on Chowen between 51 st and 52 nd.
With this new system, flood water will enter the tanks and drain to Lake Harriet as soon as the pipe system to the north can accept the water. The tanks will not remove current pipes but will supplement the existing system.
Benefits of design:
- Meets technical, fiscal, and regulatory criteria.
- Reduces damage to homes, yards, and public streets.
- Collects water where it naturally gathers, which maximizes its mitigation effect.
Impacts of the design:
- Trees would be permanently removed from the boulevard on the eastern side of the 5000 block of Chowen. The tanks will be too close to the surface for boulevard trees to take root. Trees can be planted on private property.
- Trees on the southern boulevard of 51 st , between Zenith and Abbott and Beard and Chowen, would be removed for construction, but would be replaced after project completion.
- Construction will last 12 16 weeks and Chowen Ave. and 51 st St. will be closed during much of the construction.
- In the ideal construction method, the City would seek five foot easements from properties to enter the front of properties and maximize soil compaction. If residents did not want to grant these easements, the City would use construction techniques which would keep work in the public right of way.
Last updated Mar. 6, 2012