Doug Snyder, executive director of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, calls their new headquarters building recently opened in Northeast Minneapolis “participatory green.”
Constructed within sight of the new Lowry Avenue Bridge, the new building includes a “wet classroom” that allows visitors to see rainwater harvesting in real time and a turf training space where they can learn how to reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides that flow off of their lawns during a rain event. Those are just two elements of a new building that aims to engage the public in the organization’s work: protecting and managing its portion of the Mississippi River’s watershed.
“We are hoping to show people the importance of this facility not just as a space for connecting with Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, but also to serve as a training facility,” Snyder said.
The organization held a grand opening for the new building, located at 2522 Marshall St. N.E., Oct. 27. The event was part of an initiative to increase public awareness of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization [MWMO], which manages a watershed that covers about half of Minneapolis, including all of Northeast, and portions of six other cities.
For the grand opening, the public was invited into a spacious lobby featuring art and craft pieces by local residents and even some MWMO staff before starting on a tour of the building. The event also included an educational session on how to conserve and utilize storm water efficiently.
Snyder said the organization plans on allowing other groups like the Science Museum of Minnesota and University of Minnesota’s Saint Anthony Falls Lab to use their space for educational purposes in the future.
The MWMO’s headquarters a building that intends to lead by example. It incorporates geothermal heating and cooling and other features meant to improve its environmental sustainability, Snyder said.
Some of those features weren’t quite ready for the grand opening, including a set of solar panels that organization still plans to install. And about half of the property the building sits on remains undeveloped, with the MWMO planning on further expanding the space with more technological advancements.
Established through a joint agreement between cities in the watershed and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the MWMO gained levy authority in 2001. The organization has an operational budget of about $4.9 million, Snyder said.
“Seventy-five percent goes to capital projects, 15 percent goes towards staff and overhead expenses, and the remaining for other educational and outreach programs,” he said.
Through its many programs, the organization assesses water resources and monitors water quality within the watershed. It promotes greening and landscaping to reduce storm water runoff. It also awards grants to researchers operating in the watershed, funds community projects through a stewardship fund, maintains an emergency response fund and plans land acquisitions to protect and preserve water resources in the area.
To learn more about MWMO or its new building, go to its website: mwmo.org.