Focusing on the Headwaters of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed

February 27, 2018

Common Carp Seine on Wassermann WestAll of the cold weather we’ve been having this winter has been great for those of us who like to get out on the ice. Anglers have been out in force on area lakes, including Lake Wassermann in Victoria where commercial fishermen have been busy removing thousands of pounds of common carp. This fish removal project is part of an effort by the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and its partners to improve the water quality in the Six Mile - Halsted Bay Subwatershed. Known as the headwaters of Lake Minnetonka, this 27-square-mile area contains a complex system of 14 lakes and hundreds of wetlands woven together by Six Mile Creek. The creek drains into Halsted Bay, one of Lake Minnetonka’s most degraded bays.

Invasive common carp have been identified as a key factor in harming water quality in this area. They uproot vegetation and stir up lake bottoms, which degrades habitat and releases internally-stored phosphorus that leads to algae blooms. To understand the behavior of common carp in the Six Mile – Halsted Bay Subwatershed, the MCWD worked with the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center over a span of three years to assess the number of common carp throughout the Six Mile Creek chain of lakes, identify locations where they spawn and pinpoint their migration patterns.

We used the findings from this study to develop a plan to reduce the common carp population and significantly improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation in the region. The plan includes aerating shallow lakes to promote bluegill sunfish survival (a natural predator to common carp eggs), installing barriers to block carp movement to spawning areas, and removing carp. In all, this project would restore more than 2,400 acres of our natural resources – one of the largest habitat restoration and water quality enhancement projects in the Twin Cities!

Funding for this project is being considered in the current session of the Minnesota Legislature. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council is recommending a total of $567,000 in project funding for managing carp in the Six Mile – Halsted Bay Subwatershed over the next three years. Carp management is part of a larger strategy in the headwaters of Lake Minnetonka to address historical water quality issues, improve degraded habitat, and restore fragmented landscape corridors. Other planned activities include a partnership with the City of Victoria to restore a wetland and woodland on the western shore of Lake Wassermann and provide a park and public access to the lake, a goal identified in the City of Victoria’s 2008 comprehensive plan.

As we embark on the next decade of our clean water work, the Six Mile-Halsted Bay Subwatershed is a great opportunity for us to make lasting water quality improvements by focusing our efforts, aligning with our partners’ goals and leveraging public and private investments. This area is undergoing rapid change and the decisions we make now will have long-lasting effects on the future of the watershed and our communities.

We look forward to continuing to work with the cities of Minnetrista, St. Bonifacius, Victoria, and Waconia; Carver and Hennepin Counties; Laketown Township; Three Rivers Park District; and Carver County Soil and Water Conservation District, to improve water quality in headwaters of Lake Minnetonka and the Minnehaha Creek watershed. Our partnership, which was formalized in 2017, ensures ongoing, proactive communication and coordination so that we can connect community plans and priorities with water quality goals as development occurs within the region.

Learn more about MCWD’s work to improve the quality of water and quality of life in the Six Mile – Halsted Bay Subwatershed.