Jump to main navigation. Jump to main content

Tilling and Composting Compacted Soils to Decrease Stormwater Runoff

Standard construction practices compact soils and decrease the infiltration potential of the soil. Compacted soil covered with sod can have the same effect as impermeable pavement, resulting in excess water simply running off into the street and storm sewers. Runoff resulting from construction compaction, rooftops, and pavement contributes to the degradation of rivers through sedimentation and erosion, the pollution of lakes and other water bodies, and the risk of flash flooding. It has often been asserted that tilling the compacted soil will increase infiltration and reduce runoff. However, this hypothesis has not been proven and the effect of these practices has not been quantified, leading many developers to resist implementing such practices. John Gulliver (Department of Civil Engineering) is working with the Three Rivers Park District and the City of Maple Grove to test the hypothesis and quantify the impact of tilling compacted soil, and tilling and adding compost to the compacted soil. The goal of the project partners is to reduce stormwater runoff in developed and developing watersheds, reducing the impact of runoff on downstream rivers and lakes. The results of the project will suggest best practices for mitigating compaction on construction sites in newly developing areas of the Twin Cities that can be disseminated through the University of Minnesota Continuing Education's Erosion and Sediment Control Certification Program. The project can also help to inform local municipalities considering regulatory approaches to reduce soil compaction and stormwater runoff. CURA's Community Growth Planning Assistance Center (CGPAC) provided additional support for this project.

Project Award Date: 
Community organization or agency: 
Three Rivers Park District and the City of Maple Grove
Reports and related files
Sponsoring CURA Program: 
CURA Contact: 
Edward Goetz Director, CURA (612) 624-8737