Water Quality Improvement Projects

Three Rivers Park District’s Water Resources Team is committed to improving the water quality of lakes located within the parks. Staff is regularly checking lakes in the Park District for any water quality concerns. If concerns are identified, a course of action is planned and carried out to improve the water quality.

View of clear water at lake shore

Sochacki Park

Three Rivers Park District, in coordination with Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, and the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, is assessing the sub-watershed in Sochacki Park to identify potential improvements to its wetlands.

The assessment is the first step toward improving the ecological health, aesthetics and condition of the wetlands and providing additional outdoor recreation and education opportunities. 

Ponds within the park, North Rice, South Rice and Grimes, are classified as shallow wetlands by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. As part of the two cities’ stormwater management systems, these ponds receive runoff from the surrounding areas before draining into Bassett Creek. Common to wetlands in urban areas, the ponds have high amounts of nutrients that contribute to water quality problems, prompting concern from residents and park visitors.

The sub-watershed assessment is expected to take about two years to complete. A project steering committee, including staff from the partner agencies, the consulting engineer, and a neighborhood citizen liaison, is meeting quarterly to help guide the process. A spring 2021 project update is available here, and a summary of data collected in 2020 is available here.

Following the assessment, a report will detail the findings and recommend potential options and costs to improve water quality and ecological health of the wetlands. Three Rivers Park District Water Resources staff will assist throughout the process and identify citizen science opportunities once the assessment is complete.

Sochacki Park includes land in Robbinsdale and Golden Valley and is jointly operated under a partnership between Three Rivers Park District and the Cities of Golden Valley and Robbinsdale. The park entrance is located at 3500 June Ave. N., Robbinsdale. For more information about the sub-watershed assessment, check out these Frequently Asked Questions, or contact Luke Skinner, Three Rivers Park District Associate Superintendent for Recreation, Education and  Natural Resources, at 763-383-2536 or Luke.Skinner@ThreeRiversParks.org.

Fish Lake Regional Park

Fish Lake covers 238 acres, offering fishing, boating and swimming to park visitors and area residents. In 2008, the lake was listed on the state’s impaired waters list for excess phosphorus. Excess phosphorus causes algae blooms that turn the water green which negatively affects the suitability of the lake for humans, pets and even wildlife.

Together with the Elm Creek Watershed Management Commission and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Three Rivers’ staff conducted water quality studies at Fish Lake. These studies found that most of the phosphorus affecting the lake’s surface water was being released by enriched sediment at the bottom of the lake. Three Rivers worked with the City of Maple Grove, the Fish Lake Area Residents Association, and the Elm Creek Watershed Management Commission to pursue a strategy to correct the problem and bring the lake into compliance with state water quality standards.

On behalf of the Watershed Commission and with the support of the partners, Three Rivers submitted a grant application through the state’s Clean Water Fund program to treat Fish Lake with a chemical compound called alum. The grant was approved and alum treatment has begun. Alum is commonly used in the kitchen for pickling and by water treatment facilities for treating drinking water. When applied properly, it is safe to use in a lake to control phosphorus released by lake bottom sediment.

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lake Rebecca was listed on the state’s impaired waters list in 1998 for excessive mercury and again in 2008 for excess phosphorus. Three Rivers staff worked with Hennepin County Environmental Services to improve manure and stormwater management by a livestock operation in the lake's watershed. Three Rivers also used several different methods to treat stormwater from developed areas within the park. In 2009, Three Rivers staff launched efforts to control the invasive curly leaf pondweed, which is known to damage water quality. And finally, Three Rivers staff carried out an alum treatment on the lake to dramatically reduce the release of phosphorus from highly enriched bottom sediments.

Water quality in the lake has dramatically improved, and the public, as well as regulatory agencies, has noticed. Because of these efforts, Lake Rebecca will soon be removed the state's "impaired waters" list, the first lake in Three Rivers Park District to achieve that distinction.