ENGLISH COULEE WATER IMPROVEMENT AND PUBLIC OUTREACH
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Investigating Causes to Address Water Quality Issues
The English Coulee meanders through Grand Forks, North Dakota and has many important uses to the City. The coulee not only provides drainage and interior flood protection storage, but it also serves a pedestrian walking/biking corridor and provides recreation opportunities such as ice skating and paddling.
Given that the English Coulee serves a watershed of over 50 square miles that is dominated by agricultural land use, the coulee has been plagued by issues related to E. coli and phosphorous. Further, as Grand Forks continues to grow, urban runoff quality is also providing significant loading.
Client: City of Grand Forks
- Water Quality Monitoring
- Effective Public Engagement to Reach a Wide Audience
The stagnant water conditions throughout much of the summer, combined with the high nutrient concentrations, create severe aesthetic and odor issues related to algal blooms and anoxic conditions. While the coulee is listed as an impaired 303(d) waterway, the City decided to begin their own multi-phase initiative to renew the coulee given its benefit to the community as a recreational resource.
Water quality monitoring was completed for numerous parameters that confirmed the community’s observations – nutrients (namely phosphorous), suspended sediment, and E. coli were all very high throughout the year. The data indicated that the water quality challenges are driven by upstream agricultural runoff particularly in the springtime, local urban runoff, and in-stream nutrient cycling from legacy nutrient and sediment deposition.
Effective Public Engagement to Reach a Wide Audience
A unique approach to public engagement was used with signs along the coulee with QR codes that pedestrians could scan and bring the online survey up on their phones. The public engagement survey received over 500 responses with an overwhelming response that the community wanted to see the coulee’s water quality improved.