Minnehaha Creek Urban Corridor Restoration
For much of the first half of the 20th Century, Minnehaha Creek was ignored and treated like a ditch for polluted rainwater flowing off the landscape. Later, during the post-World War II building boom, urban expansion did not mix well with the meandering creek. Wetlands were drained and filled and the creek was moved out of the way. The result was a straightened waterway that’s polluted, prone to flooding and lacks sufficient public access for recreation.
But there’s an effort to carefully restore the creek to its former state by redirecting the water through a series of curves, rebuilding wetlands and wildlife habitat and incorporating opportunities for public access. When the work is done, Minnehaha Creek will look and function more like it did decades ago and is destined to become a regional attraction.
The origins of the project date back to 2005, when the MCWD partnered with Park Nicollet Health Services to restore the creek near Methodist Hospital. The project featured a re-meandering of the creek, reestablishment of the wetland and construction of a boardwalk with benches, lookouts and educational signage. As a result of that work, what was once a flood-prone ditch has become an amenity for the hospital campus and the nearby neighborhood.
Following the success of the project, the District developed a vision to expand the restoration upstream as far as Knollwood Mall.
Learn more about the projects involved in this landmark restoration:
(Updated April 31, 2015) -- Restoration work is complete. The re-meander of the stream channel is finished, surrounding wetlands restored, and both stormwater facilities are online and functioning. The boardwalk and paved trail will be open for public use in early summer 2015. A map of the trail system is available near the bottom of the page.
The MCWD will continue actively maintaining the vegetation until it becomes established. The canoe launches at Creekside Park and Louisiana Avenue have been re-constructed and are ready for use, and meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act for accessibility, so all can enjoy this new section of creek.
(Updated March 31, 2015) -- The District will install a pipe to divert stormwater from Powell Road into the infiltration basin in 2015. Diversion of a pipe near Lake Street will occur in 2017, to save money by coinciding with Metropolitan Countil's sanitary sewer work. The stormwater treatment features will be constructed sometime between 2016 and 2018, after the existing warehouse is demolished.
(Updated Oct. 6, 2014) -- District planners have partnered with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization (MWMO) and University of Minnesota to see if there are ways to improve this "base" flow. They are researching the interaction between the creek and the groundwater reservoirs below to determine where the creek is receiving groundwater, and where it is not. The final report is being prepared.