A new stormwater management system of filtration ponds and
wetlands remove sediment, pollution and nutrients from runoff.
Unlike many buried streams, Trout Brook in St. Paul
wasn’t interred below streets and buildings. Much of it
was piped beneath a relatively open natural valley that
was gradually filled to accommodate railroad tracks and
associated uses starting in the 1880s.
Starved for green space, the surrounding neighborhood
pushed the city to buy 42 acres of the former railroad
property. The primary goal was to create a nature sanctuary and fill a missing link in a regional trail system,
but the project also presented an opportunity to bring
Trout Brook back to the surface in a new channel.
A new stormwater management system of filtration
ponds and wetlands feeds Trout Brook. Together, they
remove sediment, pollution and nutrients from runoff
before the creek eventually flows back into a pipe and
empties into the Mississippi River.
“The nature sanctuary in and of itself didn’t need to
have a water feature, but Minnesotans are very keen
about water quality (because) 50 percent of our sur-
veyed waters are not fishable, swimmable or drinkable,”
says Deborah Karasov, executive director of Great River
Greening, a local environmental organization that
is helping the community plant grasses and trees in the
sanctuary. “The fact that Trout Brook receives so much
stormwater from this highly urbanized area and treats
it before it goes into the Mississippi is very important.”
Uncovering the creek also creates educational opportu-
nities. “When you hide a stream, people are oblivious
to their impact on water quality, but now people are
more aware of it,” Karasov says.
Trout Brook is one of several daylighting projects completed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with others
likely to follow. “A lot of people are appreciating the
possibilities of daylighting,” Karasov says.
Brad Broberg is a Seattle-based freelance writer
specializing in business and development issues.
His work appears regularly in the Puget Sound
Business Journal and the Seattle Daily Journal
Uncovering the creek creates
(Left) Volunteers planting trees near
Trout Brook in St. Paul, Minn.