An Opportunistic Collaboration…in Downtown Northfield

Savina'sGeomorphologyClassPresentationsSometimes you work long and hard to pull things together.  Other times, things just seem to come together.

Carleton College Geology Professor Mary Savina has been providing guidance to the NDDC for several years on restoring the Cannon River to health.  She’s part of an organic “team” of professors and students from both colleges who have been working on projects and commenting on policy in pursuit of a long term community goal.

Another organic “team” of Northfield area folks (including representatives from all four Townships) has been meeting informally on an irregular basis for a couple of years to discuss regional economic development.  At least two members of that team, Erica Zweifel and Glen Castore, also have an interest in river health.

And with three “100-Year” flood events in the past five years having significant impact on downtown Northfield, the NDDC is very interested in flood mitigation ideas.

Like the overlapping circles in a Venn Diagram, members of these two groups, college river experts and regional economy advocates, came together at a recent event hosted by the Cannon River Watershed Partnership.  The event featured speakers from the DNR’s Ecological and Water Resources Division.  They talked about State grants for both planning and implementation of flood mitigation.

Both circles began to act.  While one of the circles started applying for a grant to study possible projects for mitigation of flood impacts of the Spring Creek Watershed, another circle started studying the Spring Creek Watershed flooding and modeling possible mitigation projects.

The photo is of one of the end-of-term presentations of Savina’s Geomorphology class.  Bri, Bryanna, and Erica looked at creating flood basins on sites with potential near the mouth of Spring Creek.  Alex, Ian, and Ryan looked at using the Waterford Dike as a piece of a flood basin further down the Cannon.  Ellen, Ilana, and Lauren developed a really good map of Spring Creek’s sub-watersheds.

The next day, the three members of the regional economy circle learned that they had been awarded a grant to evaluate potential flood mitigation projects.  That circle promptly invited the other circle to participate in the evaluation project.  Now and then, things just come together.

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