Little Canada wrapping up pumping effort on Twin Lake

Little Canada’s pumping operation on Twin Lake as seen from the northwest on June 25; Interstate 694 can be seen in the background. With lake levels no longer threatening homes, the city is looking to service a manhole cover and end its pumping efforts, which will likely cost more than $70,000. (courtesy of City of Little Canada)

Mike Munzenrider

executive editor


The City of Little Canada is looking to wrap up three months of pumping from Twin Lake aimed at heading off lakeshore flooding and bringing water levels down to a manageable elevation.

As of the last invoice paid on Aug. 9 the city had spent $52,555 to move water out of the lake, according to Finance Director Brenda Malinowski.

Since then, City Administrator Chris Heineman said in an email, the city has likely incurred around $20,000 more in pumping costs.

The decision to pump came after an emergency June 6 city council meeting as water threatened to enter a low home on the lake — only sandbags were holding it back.

The lake, located on the city’s north end above Interstate 694, has no natural outlets. Following the past wet winter and spring, it was being fed by West Vadnais Lake, something initially unknown to officials with the city and the Ramsey-Washington Watershed District.

Updating city council members at their Aug. 28 meeting, Public Works Director Bill Dircks said pumping had been very effective through its first month and a half, taking the lake’s elevation from a high of 876.1 feet to just more than 872 feet. The city had been able to switch from a large pump to a smaller, more cost-effective version.

Then came rain in early August, which was too much for the smaller pump to handle. Dircks said crews were now aiming to lower lake levels a couple of inches in order to raise a city manhole cover, which accesses a sanitary sewer line that serves 13 homes near the lake.

“While the cover on this manhole is sealed and is designed [to] function when it is underwater, public works staff recommended raising this manhole structure in order to maintain access to the sanitary sewer line during high-water conditions,” Heineman said in the email from Sept.  4. “We hope to be able to complete this work in the next week.”

Because of the city’s ongoing cost of pumping — about $6,000 a week — Heineman said he’s recommended that the pump be removed once the manhole is raised.

Even with the water elevation no longer threatening homes, residents who’d lost significant parts of their backyards to the lake spoke at previous council meetings calling for the city to pump Twin Lake down to historical levels, regardless of cost.

Dircks said at the Aug. 28 meeting that the source of West Vadnais Lake water had been temporarily taken care of, with the watershed district looking into permanent solutions for West Vadnais overflow that would bypass Twin Lake.

He said the watershed district is also looking to construct a new overflow ditch or pipe out of the south end of Twin Lake as soon as next year.

Due to lake flooding throughout the north suburbs this summer, Dircks said, Ramsey County has said the city is eligible for reimbursement of its pumping costs, though a timetable for such a plan was unknown.


–Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813. 

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