Portions of the Lowertown area of Saint Paul are subject to flooding from snowmelt and large rain events that occur in the upstream Mississippi River and Minnesota River basins. Flooding has intermittently occurred in Lowertown for many decades, with the flood of record occurring in 1965. More recent flood events have occurred in 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2019 that have caused significant impacts to traffic patterns and potential risk to public utility systems, Kellogg Blvd, Union Depot, and private developments such as Custom House. Climate change has resulted in higher local precipitation with more frequent and severe flooding that can overwhelm critical infrastructure including sewer, water, and electrical systems that support the Lowertown and downtown neighborhoods.
The City of Saint Paul has installed a permanent pumping facility to serve portions of Lowertown that would otherwise be out of sanitary sewer service during a flood event. Additionally, the City of Saint Paul has deployed a series of temporary protective measures including earthen berms and temporary pumping facilities to mitigate the risks of flooding, but the measures do not carry the same reliability as permanent engineered systems. Therefore, the city of Saint Paul has also advanced the investigation and pre-engineering of various permanent flood protective measures to aid in mitigating the risk to public facilities and private developments in the Lowertown area.