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201 4th Street SE, Room 108
Rochester, MN  55904
Phone:  507-328-2440

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The Zumbro River Starts Here Project

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The Zumbro River watershed includes Rochester’s downtown areas. These areas were developed long before the 1972 Clean Water Act and subsequent stormwater management regulations existed, so stormwater is discharged to Zumbro River without pretreatment. The City of Rochester was awarded an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) section 319 grant in January of 2015 to improve the water quality of the Zumbro River by identifying feasible volume control locations in the downtown area and demonstrating green infrastructure designs, benefits, and maintenance practices (i.e., rain gardens, cisterns, green roofs, etc.). The City encourages and promotes green infrastructure practices when public and private redevelopment projects are proposed downtown. The grant funds will be used to construct volume control practices to demonstrate their effectiveness and attractiveness and to clarify their maintenance needs. The City’s vision is to provide “reliable and sustainable public infrastructure to support a vibrant community.”

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Construction Overview: J6666 "The Zumbro River Starts Here" Stormwater Demonstration Project Summary

Stormwater Management Demonstration Site

A stormwater best management practice (BMP) demonstration site will be created along the eastern side of the City’s 3rd Street Parking Ramp. This site was chosen for the demonstration project, complete with a public art component, due to its accessibility to the public and highly visible location that will inspire and educate citizens on the use of innovative stormwater management BMPs in future development and redevelopment projects within downtown. Stormwater runoff from approximately 7,500 square feet of the upper level ramp surface will be routed to the ground level where it will be used in a stormwater education installation that demonstrates practical, innovative stormwater management strategies.

"The Zumbro River Starts Here" Project Flier (January 2018)

Public Art & Demonstration Site Milestones

  • Public Engagement and Outreach Session #1: Summer 2017 
  • Selection of Final Public Art Concept: July 2017 
  • Preparation of Schematic Design & Construction Documents: July through December 2017 
  • Public Engagement and Outreach Session #2: Spring 2018 
  • Installation of the Public Art component: May through July 2018 
  • Public Engagement and Outreach Session #3: Summer 2018 
  • Installation of the stormwater management BMPs and associated landscaping: April through July 2018

The Artist

Jenna Didier grew up in Rochester, Minnesota where she spent a lot of time wandering the fields and forests along the Zumbro River. Her work focuses on water whenever possible, aiming for the intersection between environmental and best management practices and adaptive public artworks. Many of her projects discover the invisible but powerful forces influencing a site and dramatize them through embedding interactive lighting, fog, water, or mechanical effects. Jenna lives and works in Los Angeles, California where she founded the Materials & Applications (M&A) non‐profit organization that develops immersive public environments and experiments with materials and techniques through socially –engaged programs. Jenna will be present for the event on June 29.

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Online Feasibility Tool

The downtown area has many above- and below-ground constraints that may preclude onsite volume control now required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).  The City would like to encourage the adoption of green infrastructure practices when public and private redevelopment projects are proposed downtown.  The grant funds will be used to construct volume control practices (rain gardens, cisterns, green roofs, etc.) to demonstrate the implementation of these best management practices (BMPs) within an ultra-urban setting, as well as effectiveness for improving water quality.  In addition, these projects will clarify the maintenance needs of ultra-urban BMPs within the downtown area.  Rochester is updating their ordinance governing stormwater management for new developments, and volume control will be a primary component of the revised ordinance.

Click here to use the Online Feasibility Tool

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Project Funding

The total cost of this project, officially entitled the "Zumbro River Ultra-Urban Vol-TSS-FeC Reduction" project, is budgeted at $555,000. The City of Rochester received a 319 Grant award of $300,000 that became available in January 2015 and is being allocated completely for construction. Grant funding is based on a 45% cash/in‐kind match by the local grant recipient. The City’s match portion is $255,000.

319 Grant Program

The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act (CWA) established the Section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program Section 319 addresses the need for greater federal leadership to help focus state and local nonpoint source efforts. Under Section 319, states, territories and tribes receive grant money that supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) administers the program in Minnesota on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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