BY KATHRYN KELLY
We keep hearing that the pumping at Hiawatha Golf Course is bad. But why? Let’s turn this idea on its head and ask why is this pumping necessary?
Why is Hiawatha Golf Course pumping so much water; where is all of this water coming from?
Lake Hiawatha is the collection point for the whole Minnehaha Creek watershed to the north, south and west. This area produces a massive amount of water that needs to pass through little Lake Hiawatha on its way to the Mississippi River. If you look at a map of the watershed, you realize what an amazing feat is accomplished by this little lake in taking on this massive volume of water today.
Over the last 100 years, huge amounts of development in the upper watershed have dumped more and more water into this little lake. And, with expected climate change, it is an unrealistic expectation that this little lake will continue to take on this huge task. But, SaveHiawatha18 has learned that little has been done in the communities in the upper watershed to reduce their contribution to this massive amount of water flow. The current efforts consist of storing the water temporarily and trying to control its release into the watershed. Ultimately, this does nothing to relieve the burden placed on this little lake. It is only a complex dance that determines whose water gets to be released at any point in time.
And, the Minneapolis Park Board’s solution of flooding the golf course will only make a slightly larger lake, which will quickly fill with water and provide a momentary increase in storage that will do nothing for the long term. Storing a little more water in this basin will not change the fact that the same volume of water will still have to move through this small park.
Let us remember the three main sources of the water being pumped from the golf course: seepage from Lake Hiawatha due to abnormally high lake levels, surface and ground water from the surrounding terrain, and the city’s storm sewer water that is dumped into the golf course at East 43rd Street and 19th Avenue South.
Will the pumping end with the Park Board’s new plan for Hiawatha Golf Course?
The short answer is NO! It will just be moved into the neighborhoods. The Park Board admits that the groundwater levels will go up in the neighborhoods once pumping stops at the golf course. Under the Park Board’s original reduced pumping plan they also state that 46 percent of the water pumped from the neighborhoods will come from the “Creek and Lake.” So, the City of Minneapolis will install pumps in the neighborhoods and try to pump the water from the neighborhoods to the golf course property, with almost half of the pumped water coming from the golf course property. Does this sound crazy to you? It sounds crazy and frightening to the affected homeowners!
Are there solutions?
The government agencies for these areas need to get together and define solutions that REDUCE the volume of water coming into little Lake Hiawatha and/or INCREASE the capacity for outbound Minnehaha Creek to drain water more quickly. Otherwise, they are DOING NOTHING to ultimately solve the problem. And, moving the pumping of water from the golf course into the neighborhoods will just put hundreds of low-lying homes at risk, and move the burden of handling this water to the homeowners, the business owners and the City of Minneapolis.
So, is pumping bad? We say NO; pumping is necessary. It is just a question of the best place to do it. Pumping will be occurring somewhere because this water needs to be moved out of this area. The current pumping at the golf course is the only PROVEN method of evacuating the water safely while protecting the neighborhoods and allowing the golf course to provide recreation to thousands of people.