On November 9, the Faribault County Soil and Water Conservation District presented the 2016 Stormwater Excellence Award for efforts put forth for water quality work completed in conjunction with the parking lot reconstruction done at the Ag Center in the City of Blue Earth. Partners on the project included the Faribault County Development Corporation, the Blue Earth Community Foundation, Blue Earth EDA, the City of Blue Earth, and Bolton & Menk.
In 2012, a local business donated the 65,000 SF multi-use office building complex known as the Ag Center to the City of Blue Earth EDA. The Ag Center was and is home to several local agencies and businesses including real estate, insurance, medical, various Faribault County departments, and others. The City inherited the building, site, and the revenue from the occupant's rent for $1, but they also inherited the repairs and maintenance that were needed at the facility. Needs included leaks in the roof, plumbing issues, electrical problems, and an inefficient and deteriorating parking lot with poor surface drainage conditions.
Bolton & Menk staff worked closely with the Blue Earth EDA and Faribault County SWCD to develop a more efficient parking lot layout, improved surface drainage, and water quality features to reduce sediment and nutrient contaminants in the runoff. The Faribault County SWCD identified and secured available funding sources for the water quality features and provided direct input during the design process. Since the SWCD's office is located in the Ag Center building, they were not only provided funding assistance but received a direct benefit from the improvements as well.
In the end, the City received an improved parking lot that is more attractive and now provides adequate parking for the businesses and their customers. The Faribault County SWCD was able to implement one of the first water quality improvement projects in the City of Blue Earth right outside their front door. The Blue Earth River will benefit from a reduction in storm water runoff contaminants since the former site surface drained and was piped directly to the river with virtually no treatment.