Nov 23, 2020

South Dakota Students Create Living Laboratory at Downtown Park

Storm water upgrades are being made to the Trinity Eco Prayer Park.

storm water management

Students from South Dakota Mines made recommendations on upgrades to the Trinity Eco Prayer Park.

According to Rapid City Journal, these recommendations were funded from the West Dakota Water Development District and a group of Rapid City area businesses. The idea for infrastructure upgrades to increase the water flow and filtration capacity at the park began in 2017. 

The upgrades include increasing water flow capacity and providing easier maintenance at the park. The original intent of the park is to slow, spread, infiltrate, and naturally filter the storm water that runs off part of downtown before it enters Rapid Creek.

The project will also create an opportunity for a living laboratory. By doing so, future students can: study urban runoff, associated water quality issues and sustainable storm water management practices.

Trinity Eco Prayer Park is owned by the Trinity Lutheran Church Foundation and operates as a public park with over a dozen sustainability features that aim to protect water in Rapid Creek. The creek is known for trout fishing, added Rapid City Journal.


Grants, funding and donations came from a number of public and private entities including:

  • $24,500 from West Dakota Water Development District
  • $15,000 from the Trinity Lutheran Church Endowment Foundation
  • $5,000 from TerraSite Design
  • $3,000 from RCS Construction
  • $3,000 from Doyle Concrete
  • $2,000 from Hanson Mapping and Survey
  • Pike at Play Excavation is doing the demo and dirt work at cost

“These funders are visionaries who understand this park is something unique that is turning the otherwise unsightly problem of urban runoff into a community asset,” said park director Ken Steinken.

The upgrades include a sediment catchment basin where water flows in from the surrounding block. Upgrades are also being made to the sidewalk crossings and to increase the channel capacity.

Several more donors are needed to cover the entire cost of the $66,010 in improvements, according to the Rapid City Journal.

The project not only helps reduce pollution into Rapid Creek, but will help people better understand, study and design sustainable storm water management solutions in future projects.

The idea for infrastructure upgrades to increase the water flow and filtration capacity at the park began in 2017. Mines student Andrea Vargas was undertaking a study on pollinators in urban areas when a major rainstorm hit the park, reported Rapid City Journal. 

During the storm, Vargas noted that the infrastructure was not adequate. As a result, the next year, Vargas and a team of Mines students, undertook the senior design project to study and recommend infrastructure upgrades for the park.

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