Sustainable Landscape Analysis at Metropolitan Council Wastewater Treatment Plants


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The Metropolitan Council operates several wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the Twin Cities area. Most of the WWTPs are located adjacent to river corridors, and in some cases form portions of sensitive wildlife habitat and native vegetation areas. Landscape design at the WWTPs has traditionally consisted of traditional mowed turf, which requires constant mowing, occasional herbicide application and irrigation, and provides little benefit to wildlife or water quality. The Council is committed to developing strategies, guidance, and implementation plans to transition the landscaping to more natural systems, incorporating native tree species, pocket prairies, raingardens, swales, and other features at its seven WWTPs, one water reclamation plant, and other miscellaneous lift (pump) station properties.

The Empire WWTP has implemented several sustainable landscaping practices, including permeable pavement, raingardens, a green roof and more. However, they have a large area of mowed turf that they would like to convert to a sustainable landscape that provides ecosystem benefits. Students will conduct a social/economic/ecological analysis to examine the costs and benefits of converting this turf area to native vegetation. They will develop a report to guide stakeholders and decision makers through this analysis and to make a case for the implementation their findings.

Students will also analyze water quality, flow, and trout populations in the Vermillion River stretch along the Empire WWTP, prior- and post-effluent diversion from the Vermillion River to the Mississippi River. Students will develop a scientifically-backed proposal with tiered recommendations for MCES to identify and respond to temperature stressors in our reach of the Vermillion River.


Targeted Conversion of Turfgrass to Native Prairie in Grassed Swales, A. Gilmore and B. Mueller

The Business Case for Turfgrass Conversion at the Empire WWTP, JP Fischer and E. Zanoth

Exploration of Thermal Regime on Salmo trutta Populations

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

Sustainable Communities Partnership Contact Info

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Eric Chapman
Environmental Science

Local Government / Community Contact

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