Walker, Minnesota –
Walker’s Leech Lake is a world-class fishing destination known for its incredible walleye population and monster muskies, so clean water is essential for Walker’s ability to attract anglers and tourists from across the Upper Midwest. The Walker North Side Water Project began in 2017 when Kris Carlson, Ulteig Associate Director of Civil Services and Walker’s City Engineer, wrote a report noting that much of downtown Walker’s water and sewage utilities were more than 50 years old.
In designing the project, the Ulteig water team anticipated a two-year construction process to replace aging infrastructure in the city’s main business district. Based on Carlson’s report, the Ulteig water team, working with the City of Walker, began planning and design in 2017 with construction anticipated to begin during the summer construction season of 2020.
Instead of shelving the project because of the pandemic, the City of Walker took advantage of the situation – moving forward on the project and completing the entire project in just one year.
Phasing-in a City-Wide Construction Plan
“A significant portion of the sewer that was replaced included the city’s main trunk sewer line that conveys nearly all of the city’s wastewater and flows to the main lift station in the city park. It was a balance of correcting some of these old errors and outfitting the entire system with standardized piping,” Carlson said.
The Ulteig team and our city partners also faced a tedious construction planning process, as half of the project would be carried out in the city’s downtown area.
“Anyone who has been to Walker knows it is a huge tourist community,” Carlson said. “Phasing in different stages of construction to be minimally disruptive to the citizens, tourists and businesses of downtown – especially during the summertime — that was our most pressing challenge.”
In the summer months, the town of nearly 1,000 residents swells in size, with thousands of tourists and summer residents.
The project plan also affected residential water consumption and citizen safety.
“By replacing aging infrastructure, our intent was to improve the efficiency of the water flow throughout the town, which meant the city would lose less water and have fewer leakage issues. The project would also keep ground water filtration system sanitary because there’s no need to pump and treat any possible contamination,” Carlson said.
Building with an Eye Toward the Future
Replacing the town’s outdated water pipes was the primary focus of the project. The Ulteig team thought it would also be important to consider the growth of the town in the years to come. As such, the Ulteig water team took a comprehensive approach to the project.
Other key elements of the project included:
- Increasing Water Flow — Replacing existing four-inch pipes with eight-inch pipes to increase water flow.
- Eliminating Lake Run-off – Partnering with the local Watershed District to add water quality structures to reduce runoff and improve the quality of stormwater discharge – renovating Walker’s two largest parking lots where runoff goes directly into Leech Lake.
- Culvert Replacement — Constructing a 25-foot-deep culvert replacement in Lake May Creek. Replacing the old 48-inch circular pipe with a new 72-inch equivalent arch pipe with improved fish passage features, so white sucker, a popular bait fish, can migrate through the creek into Leech Lake.
To read the full story about the Walker Water Project, click here.
To learn more about the water engineering services offered by Ulteig, click here.