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Planning for a rainy day: MPCA helps communities prepare for climate change

The Lowell Park gazebo submerged in flood water except for the roof in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Flooding of the St. Croix River in the spring of 2023 in Stillwater, Minn.

Communities across Minnesota recognize the need to prepare for climate change, which is why the MPCA has announced $750,000 in grants aimed at building resilience in those communities.  

“Extreme weather from our changing climate poses a threat to our communities, economy, and way of life,” says MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler. “Local governments are seeing the devastating consequences of extreme weather, but need support from state government to ensure their communities are protected in the future.”

According to a recent MPCA survey, 87 percent of local governments in our state reported that they experienced the impact of a weather trend caused by climate change. Forty-two percent of communities reported the need for additional funding for planning and infrastructure upgrades to address these impacts.  

Over the last two years, the MPCA distributed more than $3 million in grants to more than 30 communities across Minnesota — including those listed below — to fund climate resilience planning. Communities have used these funds to develop plans that will make infrastructure more resilient in the face of anticipated climate-related challenges like heat waves and extreme rainfalls.  

Tribal nations, cities, counties, towns/townships, soil and water conservation districts, water management organizations, and water districts have until December 14 to apply for community resilience grants

FY23 stormwater, wastewater, and community resilience planning grants

City of Alexandria southeast watershed resiliency planning - $65,000

A hydrology, hydraulics, and water quality model for the southeast watershed, and a report summarizing the results and identifying areas of the city that are vulnerable to increased rainfall totals.  The models and report will also identify current potential problem areas in consideration of changing rainfalls and assist in guiding flooding and stormwater quality concerns in the future.

City of Austin downtown stormwater resilience plan - $66,930

Develop a downtown stormwater resilience plan that identifies locations and causes of localized flooding within the city’s downtown area, assesses damage potential and community vulnerability due to localized flooding in the downtown area, develops potential projects to reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change in the downtown area, and estimates the cost of project implementation.

City of Hutchinson stormwater resilience plan, north - $59,120

Develop a stormwater resilience plan that identifies locations and causes of localized flooding, assesses damage potential and community vulnerability due to localized flooding, develops potential projects to reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change, and estimates the cost of project implementation.

City of Owatonna stormwater resiliency plan - $88,380

The City of Owatonna is in the Cannon River watershed in southeastern Minnesota and straddles the Straight River. Flooding in the city due to large rain events is a primary surface water concern. The City of Owatonna is currently updating its surface water management plan with an identified need to address infrastructure resiliency related to climate change and increased rainfall amount, duration, and frequency.

City of Prior Lake hydrology and hydraulic resiliency study - $38,000

Identify and devise solutions for areas of flooding concerns and undersized stormwater infrastructure within the City of Prior Lake when considering current and future climate impacts. By working with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and prioritizing projects that benefit that community and areas with residents below the poverty level, equitable resilience will be provided to the entire community .

City of St. Cloud South St. Cloud stormwater resiliency and flood risk reduction plan project - $40,226.52

Create a stormwater management and climate resilience plan for the undeveloped areas of South St. Cloud. The plan will prioritize protecting the numerous environmentally sensitive and natural areas in South St. Cloud and reduce flood risk to these areas that could be caused by development.

City of St. Peter western St. Peter area aquifer protection plan - $57,000

Study and quantify the flow of water, sediment, and nutrients during increasingly high rain events and evaluate the impacts of a variety of control methods or management practices that would reduce nitrates that are being introduced to St. Peter’s drinking water supply.

Region Nine Development Commission Comfrey community climate resilience plan - $10,537

Conduct a community resilience plan to identify and address how a changing climate is impacting the community of Comfrey, Minnesota. This planning process will investigate a wide range of environmental factors in the City of Comfrey which will include, but are not limited to, energy costs, food access, flooding, and environmental disaster preparedness.

FY23 small communities stormwater, wastewater, and community resilience planning grants

City of Byron stormwater infrastructure improvement plan for future climate change - $46,509

An evaluation of the city’s storm water infrastructure ability under future climate change to protect homes, businesses, and the wastewater plant from flood damage. We will use XP-SWMM to compare peak flows and flood elevations within the city under current (Atlas 14) and future (mid-century) 24-hour, 100-year rainfall events to identify potential deficiencies in the existing stormwater infrastructure under future climate change.

City of Cokato flood vulnerability assessment and mitigation alternatives evaluation - $53,683

Identify locations in the City of Cokato vulnerable to flooding due to predicted larger rainfall events and develop mitigation projects to address the existing and increasing flood protection need.

City of International Falls stormwater management assessment and implementation planning - $68,260

Completion of the storm sewer inventory survey, a proposed conditions model, stormwater management report and implementation plan, and associated figures describing the watershed conditions and schematic improvements.

City of La Crescent flood resiliency plan - $89,845

XP-SWMM-modeled scenarios of peak flows and flood elevations in the Redwood Drive drainage area and Shore Acres Road under current (Atlas-14, volume 8, version 2) and future (mid-century) flood events to identify potential deficiencies in the existing stormwater infrastructure and street design under future climate change.

City of Lake Wilson flood management study - $24,660

Study and identify solutions to the localized flooding within Lake Wilson City Park that threatens the city’s drinking water supply wells and renders the park unusable for months.

City of Mazeppa northern Mazeppa flood risk reduction study - $35,095

Identify and assess alternatives to create or improve flood storage and capacity, reduce the local flood risk for impacted residents of Mazeppa, and reduce the risk of associated inflow and infiltration impacts on the existing sanitary sewer system during flood events.

City of Renville stormwater resilience action plan - $71,435

Develop a stormwater resilience action plan that identifies locations and causes of localized flooding within the community, assesses risk and community vulnerability due to localized flooding, develops potential projects to reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change, and estimates the cost of project implementation.

City of Virginia inflow and infiltration reduction planning study - $37,660

The implementation of an inflow and infiltration planning study will provide the City of Virginia with a better understanding of vulnerabilities within our sanitary sewer collection system. A study of this nature will be used to identify and develop actions to address areas of clear water inflow and infiltration entering the sanitary sewer system.

Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District stormwater resilience planning for Knife River, Minnesota - $16,657

Survey topographic and existing stormwater infrastructure information and create a stormwater drainage model for the community of Knife River. The model will be utilized to plan for improvements with the goal of increasing stormwater management capacity for flood resiliency and improving stormwater management for water quality. 

FY22 stormwater, wastewater, and community resilience planning grant 

Cedar River Watershed District stormwater resiliency - $77,708

Identify how future extreme precipitation events may impact communities in the Cedar River watershed with a focus on Austin, as well as identify constructable water infrastructure alternatives that can increase resiliency and protect communities against future extreme precipitation

City of Northfield Lincoln Waterway box culvert design - $90,000

Complete the plan design for a project that will reduce the peak elevation of the 100-year flood event from a drainage channel, known as the Lincoln Waterway, located in the northwest quadrant of the city. The current culvert is undersized, causing a bottleneck.

City of Cloquet stormwater resiliency assessment and action plan - $106,440

Develop a stormwater resiliency assessment and action plan that identifies locations and causes of localized flooding, assesses risk and community vulnerability due to localized flooding, develops potential projects to reduce flooding and mitigate the effects of climate change, and estimates the costs of project implementation. Will incorporate public engagement and input. Part of the project is in areas of concern for environmental justice, including portions of the Fond du Lac Reservation.

City of Duluth stormwater resiliency plan - $100,000

The city will do an in-depth study of the 32nd Avenue West Creek watershed, which lies within economically disadvantaged portions of Duluth’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood, to identify specific areas of vulnerability through modeling, assessment of infrastructure, and engagement of community residents and stakeholders. The Duluth Stormwater Resiliency Plan will also be updated.

City of Fridley 73rd Avenue corridor study - $39,090

To provide a final conceptual design of the stormwater resiliency improvements along a 1.25-mile segment of 73rd Ave NE between Trunk Hwy 47 and Central Avenue in Fridley. Current conditions include frequent flooding within this corridor during intense rain events and severe flooding causing property damage along its upstream portion.

City of Hopkins resilience and vulnerability assessment - $49,568

Assess the current conditions and vulnerability to high heat within the hottest corridors and proposed solutions, as well as community driven solutions for the city to prepare to assist vulnerable residents during extreme heat events. 

City of Moorhead climate change resiliency planning - $74,929

Assess vulnerabilities in the city resulting from increased rainfall intensities caused by ongoing climate change and provide a feasibility study evaluating alternatives that increase resilience of vulnerable areas of the community with populations of low-income people and people of color.

City of North St. Paul climate resiliency and vulnerable population projection in flood prevention and mitigation strategies” - $52,317

Reevaluate the city’s flood risk based on the latest climate change data and system conditions and prepare an equitable flood prevention and mitigation plan that prioritizes system improvements with a focus on protecting vulnerable populations.

City of Rochester resilience hub planning using flood risk assessment - $107,000

Develop a resilience hub network plan using a community co-design process and select a priority subwatershed that contains areas of concern for environmental justice to complete a flood risk assessment in the city.

City of St. Cloud Pantown neighborhood watershed stormwater resilience and flood mitigation plan - $86,141

Create a climate resilience plan for the 850-acre developed Pantown neighborhood watershed. Check out the Pantown stormwater resilience and flood mitigation plan story map

City of Worthington stormwater management plan - $60,000

Update the city’s stormwater management plan, which will position the city for successful implementation of projects that will reduce flooding issues for future generations by identifying vulnerable areas and establishing hydrologic and hydraulic modeling that considers climate change.

Rice Creek Watershed District climate change and floodplain resiliency - $76,805

Use the existing district-wide hydrologic and hydraulic model to assess the vulnerability of communities within the district related to increasingly higher rainfall totals and intensities. Identify vulnerable locations and identify capital improvement projects to reduce the risk to increasing vulnerable areas. 

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