There are new deatils below in the blue box - posted on July 19th

With only one business day remaining before the first hearing of the lawsuit, Minnehaha Creek Watershed and MnDOT have reached an agreement with the Hwy55/62 interchange.

The main aspect of this agreement is to replace the holding pond in the southwest loop of the interchange, with a series of smaller ponds that are to be above the water table, so water will flow through the bottom of the pond and back into the ground. The road will also be lined. Further, there will be weekly checks for groundwater levels and flow rate for the spring, for two and a half years.

Previously MnDOT had said that they could not raise the pond any higher than they had already agreed to on November 15, 2000, which was a little over a foot above the spring. They said if the pond was any higher it would flood the road, and they can't raise the height of the road. It is unclear how they are able to now raise it above the water table.

Thanks to MCWD and all those who worked so hard to bring and keep this issue in the spotlight so it could be properly delt with!!

Further details will be posted as the become available.

MnDOT has until July 27th, 2001 to come up with the preliminary plans for the alternative design. They must be agreed upon with a neutral third party. The design must meet certain criteria, and the consultant third party can change the plans to meet the criteria and their decision is binding. The court will then assess the cost of the changes and bill it to MCWD and MnDOT as it sees fit.

By August 18th, MnDOT must have the final plans. There will be 30 months of monitoring and MnDOT is required to add wells to watch ground water levels. Additional measures will be added if this is deemed to be insufficient to monitor the spring.

MCWD and MnDOT agree that the issue of weather the interchange construction in fact impacts flow to the springs and actual degree of impact will not be tried, and release each other from all claims concerning the potentional impact except for what is defined in the criteria. The court has jurisdiction to enforce this.

The criteria
The SW loop pond will be replaced with a series of shallow ponds above the water table with permeable bottoms giving the ponds the ability to recharge the water table. They must meet the same water quality standards that the original design would have provided.

There will be a Subcut Drain/Blanket system. The goal of it is to minimize the water seepage into the ground that was normally dry and keep water in the ground that was normally wet. It is also to keep the ground water from having direct access to the drains.

MnDOT is to explore, and where feasible, implement additional means of minimizing the amount of groundwater collected by the drain system between piezometers T-9P and T-7P and discharged to the storm sewers. They may discharge the captured water back to the ground water capture area of the Springs. MnDOT does not have to do this once they get past the groundwater capture area of the Coldwater Springs. These "Additional Elements" includes the above, but is not limited to it.

A detailed written Monitoring Plan will be developed and is the responsibility of MnDOT for 30 months. The discharge rate of the drains will be monitored weekly. Groundwater levels will be monitored weekly. The flow rate of the spring will be monitored weekly. An automatic flow meter for the spring will be installed as allowed by governmental authorities.

Monthly and quarterly water quality will be assessed at the Springs. Routine monthly inspections by MnDOT will be done for 30 months, monthly and annual reports will be generated.

The number and location of monitoring wells and piezometers will be agreed upon by August 5th, and will be installed prior to construction of the Preventive Design Elements and subcut drains.

Performance Standards
Some of the portion of the flow from the sub cut area naturally discharges water away from the Springs to the river. Therefore it is expected that minor collection of groundwater from the drains will not constitute an additional withdrawal of groundwater that would go to the Springs. The drains will also include rainwater that falls onto the road and side slops of the area, so total outflow will increase with rainfall.

By August 2nd, MCWD and MnDOT will agree in writing the standards to be used to determine weather the flow to the Springs are diminished.

For one month after the sub grade drains become operational, monitoring data, except for quality, will be collected daily. After one month if there is a reduction of flow to the Springs an alternative design may be implemented. After 30 months if there is impact to the Springs additional measures can be taken to correct the problem. This can be overseen by a third party with the consent of the court.

In the event that flow is diminished within 30 months, any action brought by MCWD based on alleged diminishment of flow to the Springs, shall be brought as a new action for enforcement.

After 30 months MCWD will be responsible for monitoring the Spring but MnDOT will still be responsible to address diminishment of flow to the Springs if it is caused by the Preventive Design Elements that didn't work.