Pay Invoice
Pay Invoice


Award-Winning Collaborative Wetland, Fishpond & Bridge Projects

When put to a vote, residents passed the Linn County Water and Land Legacy bond issue with a 74 percent approval rating. This popular concept demonstrated that county residents overwhelmingly support water quality, floodplain storage, and the preservation of natural areas. To meet these goals, Linn County enlisted the help of Snyder & Associates engineers, who developed a series of award-winning water quality projects in Wanatee Park.

Listen as Nichoel Church, PWS, Lindsay Beaman, P.E., and Patrick Williams, EI, discuss how through collaboration with the county, we completed multiple wetland reconstructions, established the first fishable pond in the county, and built a new pedestrian bridge.

Podcast Agenda

  • Implementing Water Quality Improvements in Wanatee Park (00:18)
  • Wanatee Park Wetland Creation & Restoration (01:38)
  • Maintenance & Pedestrian Bridge Enhancements (4:43)
  • Erosion Control & Site Solution Benefits (07:43)
  • Navigating the Multi-Project Bidding Process (11:54)
  • Challenges Faced Throughout Design (12:31)
  • Award-Winning Collaboration & Designs (13:44)


Lindsay Beaman Contact Box White Circle Headshot

Lindsay Beaman, P.E.

Cedar Rapids Business Unit Leader

Lindsay Beaman, P.E.

Cedar Rapids Business Unit Leader

Water System Analysis & Planning, Design & Construction, Wastewater Treatment Design, Municipal Engineering

Patrick Williams Contact Box White Circle Headshot

Patrick Williams, EI

Civil Engineer

Patrick Williams, EI

Civil Engineer

Combined Sewer Planning & Design, Hydrologic & Hydraulic Analysis, Water Main design

Nichoel Church Contact Box White Circle Headshot

Nichoel Church, PWS

Environmental Scientist

Nichoel Church, PWS

Environmental Scientist

Mitigation banking development, Wetland delineation, Section 404 permitting, Endangered Species Act (Section 7 Consultation)

Implementing Water Quality Improvements in Wanatee Park

Lindsay Beaman (00:18)
Hi, I’m Lindsay Beaman. I work at the Cedar Rapids Business Unit with Snyder & Associates.

Patrick Williams (00:22)
Hi, I’m Patrick Williams, and I work in the Cedar Rapids office as a project engineer.

Nichoel Church (00:31)
Hi, my name is Nicole Church. I’m an environmental scientist in our Ankeny office, and we are going to talk about Wanatee Park wetlands, fishpond, and bridge. This was our first time working with Linn County Conservation, and it started when the county received money from the Water and Land Legacy Bond.

The public was overwhelmingly supportive of this project, and they wanted to see water quality improvements, which included nutrient reduction, flood storage improvements, and overall vegetation improvements of native species within Linn County and, specifically Wanatee Park.

Lindsay Beaman: (01:00)
So, Linn County looked to seek engineering support for these project initiatives. How is Snyder & Associates selected to pursue these initiatives based on the county?

Nichoel Church (01:09)
We have a strong engineering background in wetland design and implementation. We were awarded this project through a proposal process. During our site visits with Linn County Conservation to identify appropriate wetland improvement locations, we came across a couple of areas where we saw the potential for additional water quality improvements. They liked our ideas, and what started as just wetlands turned into wetlands, a new bridge, and a fishpond.

Wanatee Park Wetland Creation & Restoration

Lindsay Beaman: (01:38)
Now I want to break this down into each of the individual components. Nicole, can you discuss the wetland creation enhancement portion of this project?

Nichoel Church (01:44)
Placing these wetlands in strategic locations was the water quality improvement that we were looking for within Linn County. For Wanatee Park specifically, it’s generally within the flood plain, so kind of flatter, but also there are some hill slopes surrounding the park. I think us placing these wetlands in strategic locations allowed us to improve more for less. There were smaller wetlands that could improve water quality throughout Wanatee Park rather than creating one larger wetland that was isolated in one specific area of the park.

Patrick Williams (02:19)
Yeah, I would say Linn County had a grand vision in their mind once we kind of picked out these sites. So, what was fun about this project was taking their ideas and putting them on paper into something that they were happy with. A lot of the shapes of the wetlands and a lot of the design features, such as where water is coming in and where it’s going to leave in an overflow scenario, a lot of that came from Linn County Conservation, just because of knowledge and intimacy with the park. And being able to walk through the site with them to go over what their ideas and grand dreams were and being able to collaboratively put it onto paper and have something that both Linn County and Snyder and Associates could be proud of was very rewarding.

Lindsay Beaman (03:03)
Was this project any different than typical wetland restoration projects that you work on?

Nichoel Church (03:07)
It was in the sense that the county was very open to improvement locations, and they had a general idea of what they wanted and locations that they wanted, but they didn’t have a certain threshold. You know, we want to create X number of wetlands. We want to do this. We want to do that. Honestly, that freedom just allowed us to kind of explore other locations within Wanatee Park and Linn County. And I think it helped the project overall and allowed us some flexibility.

Lindsay Beaman (03:36)
Yeah, I was going to ask, is it typical for a wetland project to have seven individual sites within one park like that?

Nichoel Church (03:42)
I would say it’s atypical, but it’s definitely a benefit. Daylighting tile, allowing the water to free flow from tile and capturing that nutrient-loaded water within wetlands, as well as providing additional flood storage capacity and improving native species because Linn County Conservation did all of their seeding, which allowed for a higher water quality benefit specifically within Wanatee Park.

Patrick Williams (04:08)
One interesting aspect that they brought to the table that I had not previously worked with before was an outlet control structure called an Agri Drain®. Essentially what an Agri Drain® is, is a flow control structure that we put on the wet side of the berm, and it has these removable stop logs that the county can manually adjust how much water is on the wet side of the wetland berm. With that idea, the county’s ability to customize their maintenance and control the water depth in their wetlands for all sorts of maintenance purposes that they may have.

Maintenance & Pedestrian Bridge Enhancements

Wanatee bridge sits over a stream of water surrounded by native plantings

The bridge in Wanatee Park provides both pedestrian and maintenance vehicle access.

Lindsay Beaman (04:43)
The next phase of this project focused on the construction of a 30-foot-long pre-fabricated pedestrian and maintenance bridge over Wanatee Creek. What about the previous crossing at this creek was inadequate?

Patrick Williams (04:53)
The previous crossing involved some mulch on top of two pipe culverts. What was happening at that crossing was a large stream that made its way through those culverts and erosion, upstream flows, and the crossing is at a low point. Lots of flooding was happening in the area, causing the county to consistently re-mulch the area because of erosion. The pipes were also not sized large enough to handle the amount of flow that would come through that area during large rain events.

Lindsay Beaman: (05:22)
And what factors needed to be considered when designing the bridge?

Patrick Williams (05:25)
The biggest factor was vehicular access. The bridge needed to be able to handle the daily traffic flow of the park’s maintenance staff’s vehicles. That was priority number one in terms of usability, but the other aspect was making the opening below the bridge large enough to convey flow so that it would not overtop the top of the bridge as often as it was previously.

Lindsay Beaman (05:50)
How did our Shuck-Britson team assist us with this portion of the project?

Patrick Williams (05:54)
Well, when it comes to structural design, we heavily relied on our subsidiary Shuck-Britson. They help us a lot with structural components, and when it comes to designing a bridge, that’s their bread and butter. So they were able to help us design the bridge to be structurally functional and also aesthetically pleasing for the county and the park.

Lindsay Beaman (06:14)
How did the addition of the bridge affect the trail that crosses it?

Patrick Williams (06:17)
Well, as I mentioned before, that trail was mostly mulch, and with the addition of the bridge and some additional concrete in the event of any flooding in that area, the stability, and longevity of that area were increased because concrete’s not going to wash out anywhere near as quick as mulch would. So the county’s ability to rely on that section of trail a lot more because of the erosion control improvements that we designed and installed.

Nichoel Church (06:44)
And Patrick, wouldn’t you say that the bridge aspect allows more flow rather than having the twin CMPs?

Patrick Williams (06:53)
Oh, definitely. When you think of just two pipes underneath the trail crossing, there’s only a certain amount of water that can get through, but when you picture a bridge and a large amount of space under there, that’s just an exponential increase in the amount of water that’s able to be conveyed underneath that.

Lindsay Beaman (07:08)
Since this crossing was the main access point for the county maintenance vehicles, one of the main goals of the Linn County Conservation staff was to create a crossing that was not only accessible during high rain flow and high creek events but was also helping with the water quality aspects downstream. The washout and continuous replacing of mulch isn’t a water quality benefit. In addition to installing this bridge that gave them maintenance vehicle access to and from their shop on the other side of the Creek, it also allowed us to install Flexamat® erosion control methods about a hundred feet upstream and downstream where the crossing of the bridge and the channel is.

Erosion Control & Site Solution Benefits

flexmat with grasses growing through it

Flexmat allows native plantings and grasses to grow while protecting loose sediment.

Lindsay Beaman (07:43)
And Flexamat® is a concrete matting product that is different than riprap in that it’s stabilized within the embankment and allows grass to grow on top of it. So, in addition to being a stabilized seeing material, it brings back the aesthetics and the natural habitats that appeal to Linn County Conservation. This, again was another really big water quality box to check because, obviously, they were continuing to put excessive vegetation products and mulch in the Creek, and that wasn’t helping anything. So again, this meets one of those major goals of water quality, and we were able to double that up by making their lives easier on operational maintenance and daily routines to be able to get to and from their shop.

Patrick Williams (08:22)
Yeah, it turned a maintenance nightmare for the county into kind of a beautiful landmark in the park that not only visitors of the park can enjoy but also the county can look at that as just one less headache that they have to deal with on a seasonal basis. So that’s probably my favorite part of the project because we took something that’s been plaguing them for years and made it just something that is both functional and also aesthetically pleasing.

Creation of the First Fishable Pond in Linn County

Lindsay Beaman (08:51)
The final piece of this project involved the construction of the first fishpond owned by Linn County. How did we update this area to accommodate a stocked fishpond?

Nichoel Church (09:01)
The base for the fishpond was already there, meaning there was a water source. So water flowed into the site from a farm field under a highway and settled in a slight depression, right in front of a dam that had a huge hole in the middle of it where a pipe used to be. The county wanted to create some sort of wetland feature at this location initially. They understood that they were going to have to clean it out because of sediment coming in from the farm field. They knew that it was going to require a lot of maintenance, but it was just an area that they wanted to improve, and the public can only access this area through Wanatee Park. Well, we looked at that area and said, “Yeah, we can develop a wetland here. It would also be a cool spot to fish, and you had mentioned you wanted a fishing pond. Is this something that you’re interested in?” And they were on board from the minute that plan was set in motion. And our design team took it over and made it happen.

Lindsay Beaman (10:01)

Wanatee pond project

This project created the first fishable pond in Wanatee County.

It sounds like, after a thorough field examination, our team and the Linn County Conservation team were able to identify not just settling for another wetland water quality feature but going bigger than that and making a pond out of a place where a wetland would’ve been their original plan.

I think, in addition to that, some of the pond features we added were spawning beds, fish habitat, and jetties. There’s a deep pool area, medium pool area, and a shallow pool area to help with water quality, as well as the various species habitats. Linn County Conservation threw in some additional fish habitat features like cinder blocks, and they constructed some fake underwater trees with old conduits and zip ties tied together. Those features were put under the water as it was filling up to help create the fish habitat that would eventually form as algae and other debris catch on those structures.

Nichoel Church (10:51)
Exactly. And we did have a forebay designed and constructed just upstream from the pond. So that is our water quality improvement feature associated with the pond. A forebay is an area that’s shallow in depth, captures sediment, and allows nutrients to settle within an area that can grow vegetation. It allows the vegetation to uptake the nutrients, and it also slows down the water so the sediment can drop out before flowing into the pond.

Linn County Conservation also owns the land adjacent to the pond. This property was previously farmed with row crops. They had taken it out of crop production the year before and planted the entire field with prairie species. They also put native prairie plantings around the hill slopes of the pond and native wetland plantings around the perimeter of the pond.

The pond was initially stocked with bluegill and bass. Since that first year of stocking, Linn County Conservation has worked with DNR to also add crappie and catfish into the pond.

Navigating the Multi-Project Bidding Process

Lindsay Beaman (11:54)
This project, the wetlands, the bridge, and the fish pond were all let for three different engineering construction projects, and we administered all three of them, which meant that while they were under construction, we were in the field, helping assist Linn County Conservation staff with overseeing that their needs are being met, that the construction was on schedule and going well, And just basically overall making sure that the success of Linn County Conservation staff and the goals outlined through the development of our plans were being met. Everything went very smoothly, and it was impressive, too, that the fishpond was able to fill quickly within the seasonal rainfall events. There was no long delay for the county to begin to enjoy their fishpond.

Challenges Faced Throughout Design

Lindsay Beaman (12:31)
I think one of the greatest challenges to overcome on the project was during the bridge design. It’s not exactly as straightforward as one might think. The trail alignments from the east to west sides were offset such that the bridge had to be sloped to accommodate both trail slopes. We also made the bridge approaches ADA compliant, knowing that even though the rest of the trail outside of the bridge limits was not paved, maybe this would be something that would be necessary for the future of the trail. Additionally, while the bridge was elevated to prevent as much inundation as possible, it wasn’t necessarily set to a hundred-year flood protection elevation because when it comes to these pre-cast bridges, having them overtop with water is not something that creates additional maintenance. It’s something that they can withstand, and typically the design isn’t always as clear as what this is going to look like on paper, but at the end of the day, everybody was able to come together and understand how all those elements have to tie together to make the actual final product great for generations to come.

Nichoel Church (13:34)
And they were super happy with it once it was built. And that was the other thing is we did shift it a little bit, and that was one thing that we just weren’t anticipating.

Award-Winning Collaboration & Designs

Civil Engineer Lindsay Beaman and and Environmental scientist Nichoel Church receive ACEC award 2022

Lindsay Beaman, P.E. and Nichoel Church, PWS accept the ACEC award for this project.

Lindsay Beaman (13:44)
All of this collaboration with the county and thinking outside the box is what led us to receive an ACEC award. ACEC annually looks for engineering excellence projects that demonstrate excellence in engineering techniques or ways that we’ve met the needs of clients and how the engineering solutions are perceived by the public. They judge these projects every year, and this project was given a grand prize in the special projects category based on its complexity and how we can tie in so many different unique features and collaborate with the client.

Patrick, do you want to touch on that a bit?

Patrick Williams (14:18)
I mean, the scope itself is mind-boggling. We did seven different wetlands, a bridge, and a fishpond. Usually, when you’re doing a project, you’re sticking to one small area, but the vast amount of improvements that we brought to this park across the entire area, I think on its own, is impressive. And then, once the construction was complete and the dreams of the county and our plans came to fruition, I just think the overall quality of the work that was done stands on its own.

Lindsay Beaman (14:46)
I think it’s unique if you were to look back at the requests for the original project and the goals as Nicole outlined, where it was water quality wetlands, how much we were able to bring to the partnership with the county to identify ways to go above and beyond those goals while still very much meeting those goals. I mean, making it quite an improvement project without really straying from the actual hard and fast goals of water quality.

Awesome, this has been a great talk. Thank you for your time today. It’s been very informative.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get insights delivered directly to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.