The Whitaker Treatment Wetlands is research project that also serves a practical function for the watershed. The project, located next to Whitaker Pond in White Bear Township, serves to filter polluted stormwater that drains into Lambert Creek and eventually Vadnais Lake. Stormwater that drains to the pond comes from 640 acres of streets, parking lots, and neighborhoods to the north. Water quality samples have shown the water to be high in nutrients as well as E. coli bacteria, making Lambert Creek an official impaired water body on the State impaired list.
The treatment wetlands are three large "wetland" cells that contain different mixtures of engineered soil. Water gets pumped up from Whitaker Pond with a solar-powered pump, then travels through the wetland cells. The soils as well as native plants will filter the water before it's tested at the end of each cell. Finally, the water gets directed back to it's regular journey through Whitaker Pond, draining into Lambert Creek, and ending up in Vadnais Lake. This project is a great example of building long-term water security, as Vadnais Lake is the drinking water reservoir for the City of Saint Paul. Improvements made upstream improve conditions and cost efficiency downstream, and create a more secure and clean water resource for the future.
Secure, clean water is what VLAWMO is all about. Using community partnerships and seeking grant funds wherever applicable, VLAWMO strives to bring sound science into on-the-ground action. This project is working closely with the University of Minnesota as well as White Bear Township, and received funding from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF). The results of the project will be assessed for pollutant removal efficiency and consideration as a stormwater best management practice throughout the State. The project is complete as of this publishing except for the planting portion. Native wetland plants will be added in Spring of 2018, soon to be followed by a kick-off celebration and a regular testing schedule. Check out the photos of the project construction, and contact VLAWMO at (651) 204-6070 for any questions.