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Fore: New project diverting more rainwater to local fairways

A new creek featured at Eagle Valley Golf Course connects stormwater runoff from Woodbury Drive to the irrigation system. (Staff photo by Riham Feshir)

An innovative project is poised to save millions of gallons of water each year and relieve some stress on an already overworked groundwater aquifer.

The $650,000 worth of infrastructure allows Woodbury’s two golf courses to reuse stormwater, which is already filled with nutrients, to green up all 36 holes instead of pumping about 40 million gallons annually to irrigate.

Both Eagle Valley and Prestwick golf courses are located along Woodbury Drive so local engineers saw a unique opportunity to use additional stormwater runoff from the expanded road to water the facilities’ green spaces.

The stormwater reuse technology was installed in conjunction with Woodbury Drive’s expansion from two to four lanes last summer and will be up and running by June.

The city of Woodbury and Washington County worked with the South Washington Watershed District to manage potential flooding from increased runoff through the larger pavement.

“It made a lot of sense to divert the water from the road and into the golf course and use pumps to redirect that water to the irrigation system rather than having to pump from the ground,” Washington County engineer Wayne Sandberg said. “The benefits are for everybody. We have a place to put our water, the water is being treated and we’re protecting the aquifers.”

At Woodbury’s municipal Eagle Valley course, the links are already looking a little different this season.

A new creek was added as a feature that will help redirect the water from Woodbury Drive. In a circular pattern, it will go to a large pond, into a pumping station, to another holding pond and then the irrigation system that waters the course.

The new pumps and pipes divert the water into the course instead of running it off into Colby Lake, therefore avoiding algae growth.

“By catching and using the stormwater, it never goes into the lakes,” Woodbury Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said.

Calling it a triple win, he said the new system alleviates aquifer impact, enhances the two courses and manages stormwater runoff.

“I don’t think we would’ve got anywhere near that amount of water treated with the old system,” he said.

Typically during road expansion projects, the county or the city would purchase additional land to construct stormwater ponds and manage additional runoff.

In non-rural settings, the deal requires tearing down homes, forcing people out of their properties and taking them off the tax rolls.

The location of those two golf courses made it that much easier to use funds traditionally dedicated to easements in a new way.

“That opportunity is not always present,” Sandberg said.

Woodbury and Washington County have been working to conserve and reuse water especially since recent population projections point to the possibility of moving to surface water if the status quo continues and the aquifer dries up.

“It really is complementary this idea that we really got to protect and manage that aquifer to make sure we have adequate drinking water,” Sandberg said. “That 30 to 40 million gallons stays in the aquifer and we can use that for future generations to drink.”

The project costs were offset by a Clean Water, Land and Legacy grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, covering about 75 percent, according to county figures.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.