WTR29 Columbia Heights Campus Upgrades

Project Details:

Project Start Date: 1/1/17

Ongoing Program: N

Submitting Department: Public Works - Water

Contact Person: Dale Folen

Level of Need: Significant

Estimated Project Completion Date: 12/31/26

Department Priority: 5

Contact Phone Number: 612-661-4908


Project Location:

Address: Water Campus in Columbia Heights

City Sector: City-wide

Affected Neighborhoods: City-wide

Affected Wards: All

Water Campus in Columbia Heights

Project Description:

The Columbia Heights water treatment campus still has systems in operation that were constructed as early as 1897. The proposed project is to implement a systematic strategy to replace the function of structures built prior to about 1920. A replacement chemical storage and feed system was completed in 2019-2020. The remaining primary needs is to remove the Open Reservoir from service due to reservoir structural deterioration and water quality concerns. Removal of the reservoir requires a means to convey spent membrane backwash from the Columbia Heights Membrane Plant to the Fridley campus (a distance of approximately 3 miles). The focus of the past four years (2017 – 2021) has been on access, hydraulic evaluation, and rehabilitation of existing drain lines for this purpose. Future project direction and costs are dependent upon feasibility of the drains for long-term use. If feasible, the project will include selective repair of two drain pipelines, a pipeline to bypass the main process water around the Open Reservoir, and eventual re-purposing of the Open Reservoir.

Purpose and Justification:

The Open Reservoir has several concerns, including vulnerability, safety, and periodic water quality issues that make filtration more difficult. The structure and liner system installed in the early 1990’s are showing signs of deterioration. Currently, all water pumped to the Columbia Heights campus flows through the Open Reservoir. Spent filter backwash water (used to clean the membranes) from the ultrafiltration Membrane Plant is recycled to the Open Reservoir as well. To allow removal of the Open Reservoir, significant piping must be constructed and rehabilitated to convey water to and from the treatment processes that are remaining for the long-term.

Project Cost Breakdown

Department Funding Request


Have Grants for this Project been secured?


Describe status and timing details of secured or applied for grants or other non-City funding sources:

All funding for this project is planned to come from water enterprise revenue and bond funds.

Describe any collaborative arrangements with outside project partners, including who they are and what their role is with the project:

None planned.


State Law Chapter 462.356 (Subd. 2) requires review of all capital improvements for compliance with the comprehensive municipal plan. Chapter 13, Section 4 of the City Charter requires Location and Design Review for the purpose of approving the sale of bonds for these projects. Describe how the project is consistent with the adopted City/Park Board comprehensive plans and how the project implements goals and policies as stated in the adopted plans, including specific policy references:

The project complies with The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (the City’s comprehensive plan) through the following specific references:

Public Services and Facilities: Through sound management and strategic investments, Minneapolis will maintain and develop public services and facilities that promote health, safety and an enhanced quality of life for all members of this growing community.

Policy 5.4: Enhance the safety, appearance, and effectiveness of the city’s infrastructure.

5.4.1 Maintain and improve the quality and condition of public streets, sidewalks, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure.

5.4.2 Plan for and provide public facilities which anticipate growth needs, use fiscal resources efficiently, and meet realistic timelines.

5.4.3 Prioritize capital improvements according to an objective set of criteria consistent with adopted goals and policies, including those of The Minneapolis Plan.

Environment: Minneapolis will promote sustainable design practices in the preservation, development, and maintenance of its natural and built environments, provide equal access to all of the city’s resources and natural amenities, and support the local and regional economy without compromising the needs of future generations.

Policy 6.9: Be a steward of clean water by protecting and enhancing its surface and groundwater systems.

6.9.1 Continue to invest in maintaining excellent water quality for consumption, and ensure delivery of safe drinking water to customers.

6.9.3 Accomplish the guiding principles of the city’s Local Surface Water Management Plan, which are to protect people, property and the environment; maintain and enhance infrastructure; provide cost-effective services in a sustainable manner; meet or surpass regulatory requirements; educate and engage the public and stakeholders, and enhance livability and safety.

6.9.4 Encourage consumer use of the municipal water supply to reduce reliance on bottled water and the waste stream water bottles generate.

6.9.5 Support pollution prevention programs as an important first step in maintaining a healthy physical environment.

6.9.6 Manage pollutants at the source in order to prevent degradation of water bodies.

6.9.7 Preserve and enhance the strategic placement of pervious surfaces within the city to decrease the rate and volume of storm water runoff.

Provide the date that Location and Design Review was conducted for the project, the outcome of that analysis and the date formal action was taken by the Planning Commission:

Reviews with the Planning Commission will be a future task.

Economic Development

Will the project contribute to growth in the city’s tax base?

No impact on existing tax base

Describe the economic development impact of the project:

Not applicable.

Does the project support redevelopment opportunity that without the project would be infeasible?

Not applicable.


Is the proposed project on an existing or planned transitway, transit route, or high-volume pedestrian corridor? If yes, provide details on how the project will improve the transit and/or pedestrian experience.


Does the proposed project anticipate multi-modal enhancements (sidewalks, bicycle or transit facilities)? Provide details.

Not applicable.

Is the right-of-way constrained and do you anticipate that modes of travel will be competing for space? Provide details, is there potential for innovative design options? Provide details

Not applicable.

Operating Impacts

Operations & Capital Asset Maintenance:

Is this request for new or existing infrastructure? Existing

What is the expected useful life of the project/Improvement? 40 years

Year that Operating Incr/(Decr) will take effect? N/A

What is the estimated annual operating cost increase or (decrease) for this project? $0

Any Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations? No

Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations: N/A

Describe how operating cost increases or decreases were determined and include details such as personnel costs, materials, contracts, energy savings, etc:

Planning for neutral change or decrease in operating cost.

If new infrastructure, discuss how the department/agency will pay for the increased annual operating costs:

Not applicable.

For new infrastructure, describe the estimated timing and dollar amount of future capital investment required to realize the full expected useful life of the project:

Not applicable.

Project Coordination

Describe completion status for ongoing projects and how and when the department/agency plans to use the prior year remaining bond authorizations:

- Rehabilitation and construction of vaults to access key drain line and softened water force mains: 2017-2020

- Replacement of CHFP pretreatment chemical storage and feed system: 2018-19

- Cleaning of drain line and feasibility study for drain line rehabilitation: 2020

- Update of prioritized improvement plan and program cost: 2021 (outside of capital program)

- Remediation of drain line: 2022-2023

- Design and construction of backwash equalization basin and pipeline extension for recycling spent membrane backwash water: 2022-2023

- Construction of backwash equalization basin and pipeline extension: 2023-2024.

- Pipeline to bypass the Open Reservoir: Design 2023-2024, Construction 2024-2025.

- Re-purposing of the Open Reservoir: 2026.

If this is a new project, describe the major project phases and timing anticipated for completing the project:

Not applicable.

Scalability/Funding Allocation Flexibility – discuss any flexibility to increase or decrease funding among the years in the five-year plan and the most that could be spent in a given year: Significant flexibility is possible to adjust expenses between years.

Minneapolis Goals and Strategic Direction

Minneapolis is a growing and vibrant world-class city with a flourishing economy and a pristine environment, where all people are safe, healthy and have equitable opportunities for success and happiness.Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals. Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Public Safety

Collaborative and community-inclusive strategies to ensure safety for all members of our community:


The City prioritizes equitable access to safe, stable, accessible, and affordable housing to eliminate racial disparities in housing:

Economic Development

The City prioritizes economic inclusion so that all workers and families are supported and People of Color, Indigenous and Immigrant (POCII)-owned businesses in all sectors can thrive.

Public Services

The City prioritizes reliable and equitable access to high-quality public services.

Some of the water infrastructure on the Columbia Heights water campus installed from 1894 to 1920 is still in operation, but sometimes has the potential to impair water quality aesthetics. The Columbia Heights Campus Upgrades project is a prioritized list of improvements to bring the systems on that campus to modern standards. The water treatment system on the Columbia Heights campus works together with the treatment systems on the Fridley campus to supply high-quality water to the whole city.

Environmental Justice:

The City prioritizes sustainable practices and renewable resources to equitably address climate change while restoring and protecting our soil, water and air.

Built Environment & Transportation:

The City prioritizes high quality neighborhoods, streets, infrastructure and equitable access to multimodal transportation in all parts of the City through thoughtful planning and design.

Public Health:

The City Prioritizes positive youth development so that all children can grow healthy and safe:

Arts and Culture:

The City prioritizes arts and culture as important part of inclusive economic development and placemaking in our communities:

Additional Information

Add any additional information you feel is important for the CLIC committee, Mayor, City Council members or the general public to know about this potential project and why it should be approved:

The Open Reservoir has experienced water quality issues related to seasonal algae growth. This increases the cost of water treatment, and could potentially cause taste and odor concerns. The operational work-around is to use a small bypass system during seasonal periods of concern, but the plant capacity is severely limited due to the lack of capacity to adequately recycle spent filter backwash water. 2015 evaluations determined rehabilitation of an existing drain line to convey the backwash to the Fridley campus 3 miles away was cost effective relative to construction of backwash storage and treatment at Columbia Heights or a a new drain line between the campuses. However, the existing drain line is located below two water mains and the ability to access, assess, and clean the line to a point where rehabilitation planning and design can begin has taken considerably more effort than anticipated. Should the rehabilitation of the drain line prove infeasible, the overall campus upgrade plan needs to be re-evaluated.