H Building showing stormwater management rock tiers on hillside

Lake Superior College is situated along the north bank of Miller Creek. From the high point of campus, stormwater makes its way 150 feet downhill to Miller Creek. One of sixteen designated trout streams within the city of Duluth, Miller Creek makes its way through the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and eventually enters the St. Louis River Estuary which finally feeds into Lake Superior.

From buildings to parking lots and grounds, our landscape incorporates innovative and natural structures aimed at reducing the impact of our impervious surfaces. Our built and green stormwater system aims to reduce the amount of stormwater that reaches the stream directly, and slow and cool the stormwater that does make its way to the stream.

Managing Stormwater, Naturally

LSC’s Landscape Plan incorporates many vegetated swales and gardens aimed at catching and filtering large amounts of water from spring melt and heavy rains. This water often contains large amounts of sediment and pollutants.

The main campus has installed three major rain garden systems. The first rain garden near the west parking lot was a collaborative effort between the college and the South St. Louis County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) in 2006. In 2007, the second garden was constructed with the Student Services Building addition. The primary purpose of this garden is to capture hillside runoff from the north side of the building through an under-building tunnel. The largest and most recent bio-swale system was completed in 2011 with the Health and Science Building.

Space for vegetated stormwater structures are not always possible or practical where transportation structures like parking lots and roads are necessary. With a complete restructuring of the main parking lot in 2012, a creative solution to reduce runoff now directs stormwater to an underground stormwater detention system. Find pictures and learn more about LSC’s alternative landscape solutions on the Sustainability Council blog.

In addition to rain gardens, LSC has converted over an acre (47,000 square feet, about the size of a football field in total) of turf grass to native vegetation and no-mow areas. Most of these areas were designed and installed with expert assistance from Boreal Natives, the South St. Louis County SWCD, and Shoreview Natives. These spaces provide aesthetic interest, pollinator and butterfly habitat, and also serve to manage stormwater in place. Fourteen seasonal interpretive signs dot the campus and provide additional information on many of these stormwater features. Find more information about the benefits of native grass and prairie species from the Minnesota DNR.  Find more information about our watershed stewardship and stream monitoring programs on the Miller Creek Interpretive Trail page.

Keeping these structures free of trash and debris is also a major consideration for function and water quality. Our Adopt a Parking Lot Program encourages student clubs to monitor and clean parking lots monthly, and fosters ownership and pride in a healthy campus.

Lake Superior College operates as a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) under our own Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). Find more information on MS4s and SWPPPs on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s MS4 website.