The Park Board wants an artificial swamp to replace Hiawatha Golf Course


The Park Board proposal would build a “constructed wetland” on the Hiawatha Golf Course property, and they say it would become a “natural wetland” again. This plan violates Environmental Protection Agency guidelines found in EPA documents about Constructed Wetlands.
Artificial [constructed] wetlands are wetlands that have been built or extensively modified by humans, as opposed to natural wetlands, which are existing wetlands that have had little or no modification by humans, such as filling, draining or altering the flow patterns or physical properties of the wetland.
Based on the EPA definition of “natural wetlands,” the Hiawatha Golf Course property has not been a natural wetland since it was modified in the 1930s, and it can never again be considered a “natural wetland” because it is a product of extensive modifications by human beings and extensive changes in the neighborhoods surrounding the property.
The following information about site selection for constructed wetlands comes from EPA documents:
• The site should not be in a floodplain. Hiawatha Golf Course is on a floodplain.
• Although peats are common in natural wetlands, they are not preferred soil for establishing constructed wetlands. Hiawatha Golf Course is heavy in peat.
• A large buffer zone should be placed between the wetland and neighboring property. The wetland should not be placed next to the edge of neighboring properties. The current plans put the wetland across the street from homes, i.e., within about 30 feet, and removes the large buffer zone (the golf course) that currently protects low-lying homes.
• The effectiveness of a constructed wetland in treating wastewater or stormwater is related to the retention time of the water in the wetland. High volumes of water through a wetland reduce the effectiveness of the wetland. Lake Hiawatha has one of the highest volumes of water running through it (lowest water residency rates) of any lake in the State of Minnesota.
• Misconception: Constructed wetlands can remove significant amounts of phosphorus. Phosphorus removal in constructed wetlands is limited to seasonal uptake by the plants, which is not only minor compared to the phosphorus load in municipal wastewater, but is negated during the plants’ senescence, that is, their condition or process of deterioration with age. Within one or two years of start-up, removal of phosphorus will decline. The Park Board has not been diligent in maintaining the 18-hole golf course or the constructed wetlands at Lake Nokomis. If the Park Board does not maintain this new wetland, how will it serve the stated purpose of phosphorus removal over time, or will it just turn into a phosphorus saturated swamp?
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We are currently doing a petition to gain signatures of people who support retaining 18 holes of golf at Hiawatha Golf Course. At the last Park Board meeting at the Hiawatha Clubhouse, Linda Strande asked Tyler Pederson, the project manager for the Hiawatha Golf Course Master Plan, why they want to close the 18-hole golf course. Pederson said it is because that is what people want. So, we want to put together a petition of 18-hole supporters. We are asking 18-hole supporters to send an e-mail to: [email protected].

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