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MCWD Begins Repairs to Flood-Damaged Sections of Minnehaha Creek

Project funded by grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency
Thursday, December 13, 2018

Child playing near eroded shore at Minnehaha CreekThe Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is beginning repairs to sections of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis that were damaged by historic flooding in 2014. The high water caused more than $1 million damage to the six major streams in the watershed. The MCWD applied for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was awarded approximately $250,000 for repairs to Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis.

Over the next several months crews will repair 10 sites on Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis where sections of streambank and trails were eroded by high water in 2014. Seven of the sites are located downstream of Minnehaha Falls. The other three sites are east and west of I-35W. The work is expected to be continue through spring 2019.

“The erosion caused by the 2014 flooding had devastating effects on the Minnehaha Creek corridor,” said MCWD Project and Land Manager Tiffany Schaufler. “Eroded soil added nutrients to the creek, critical wildlife habitat was destroyed and public enjoyment of the creek was reduced.”  

In 2014, the Twin Cities saw the wettest first half of the year since modern record keeping began in 1871.  During this time Lake Minnetonka reached a new record high, Minnehaha Creek achieved a new record flow and the Gray’s Bay Dam was unable to control water levels for 83 consecutive days. The prolonged high water eroded streambanks and hampered access to recreation.

Since the flood of 2014, the MCWD has partnered with the National Weather Service (NWS) to better anticipate rain events. The NWS’ customized weather forecasts have helped the MCWD proactively manage the Gray’s Bay Dam, preventing flooding in 2016, 2017, and 2018 in spite of record-setting precipitation.

The Minnehaha Creek repairs are being coordinated with the current Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s master planning process for the Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail and the Southwest Service Area, in addition to the City of Minneapolis’ Southwest Harriet Flood Study. The partners and a citizen advisory committee are exploring potential improvements to make the Minnehaha Creek park corridor more resilient to our changing climate and to ensure it meets public needs over the next 20 to 30 years.

“The MCWD, the City and MPRB recognize the value of working in close partnership and signed a memorandum of understanding in 2017 to coordinate and leverage investments to reach mutually beneficial goals,” said Schaufler. “These include repairing flood damage, improving water quality and improving public access to Minnehaha Creek.”

More information on the Minnehaha Creek repairs and the master planning work for the park corridor along Minnehaha Creek.