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Focal geography: Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay subwatershed

Aerial of Six Mile Creek from Mud Lake to Halsted BaySign up for subwatershed project update emails.

One of the hallmarks of our approach to watershed management is the "focal geography" – a commitment to focusing time and resources in a specific area in order to make significant, lasting improvement. The approach developed from our work in the formerly degraded stretch now known as the Minnehaha Creek Greenway, where we've worked since 2010 to build relationships and understand the goals of the communities and landowners in the area. 

In 2015 the MCWD Board of Managers declared the Six Mile Creek-Halsted Bay subwatershed as our next focal geography, and since then we have worked to bring together the agencies and landowners in the area to find out where we can make water quality improvements that align with community goals.

This approach benefits more than just the residents of the subwatershed. This complex system of 14 lakes, 12 miles of Six Mile Creek, and thousands of acres of wetlands drains into Halsted Bay, which is among the most degraded bays in Lake Minnetonka. As the headwaters of the entire watershed, improvements to this system have benefits far downstream. 

The area also poses great opportunity. It is currently the least developed subwatershed within MCWD but is undergoing rapid change, so the land use decisions made now will have lasting effects on the future of the region. By bringing landowners, developers and policymakers together, we are identifying opportunities to improve natural resources in ways that support vibrant, livable communities and achieve mutually beneficial goals. 

We convened the Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Subwatershed Planning Partnership to ensure ongoing communication about plans, priorities and opportunities for collaboration in the region. The partnership committee has been briefed on water resource issues within the geography, has weighed in on local and agency priorities, and has helped shape the plan format and content. The partners include Carver and Hennepin Counties; the Cities of Minnetrista, St. Bonifacius, Victoria, and Waconia; Laketown Township, Carver County Soil and Water Conservation District, and Three Rivers Park District.

The partners will continue to be involved as we identify, prioritize and implement projects in the subwatershed which includes carp management, wetland protection and restoration, stormwater management, controlling inlake nutrients, and others.

Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Subwatershed Issues Video:

Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Subwatershed Drivers Video:

Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Subwatershed Strategies Video:

Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Subwatershed Projects:

Six Mile Creek - Halsted Bay Habitat Restoration

We began managing invasive common carp in the summer of 2018, aided by $567,000 in state funding from the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council. Project strategies include removing adult carp, installing carp barriers to restrict carp migration, and aerating lakes to promote winter survival of bluegill sunfish (a predator of carp eggs).

Wassermann Lake Park

We are working with the City of Victoria to restore the health of an undeveloped parcel on the western shore of Wassermann Lake. It will include public trails, a park shelter, and lake overlooks, creating a unique public access point along the lake. In addition to building the park, we will be treating the Wassermann West pond with alum to keep phosphorus in the lake bottom sediment contained, stabilizing a stream on site, and managing and replacing invasive species across seven acres of maple-basswood-oak woodland.

East Auburn Stormwater Ponds

We partnered with the City of Victoria to leverage Clean Water Funds to retrofit two stormwater ponds in downtown Victoria to help facilitate redevelopment downtown. The ponds include a filtration bench and an iron-enhanced filtration bench to remove 25 lbs of dissolved phosphorus and 4,750 lbs of total suspended solids per year.

Western Growth Area

The City of Victoria and MCWD have identified a unique opportunity to collaborate on natural resource and community improvements within the city’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan. This area is mostly farmland, rural residential, and open space located west of Victoria and is a future growth corridor for the city. It is rich in water and natural resources, providing a good opportunity to coordinate land use planning with natural resource protection.

We are working with the city to develop a vision that orients development around corridors of wetlands and buffers, open water, and mature trees and integrates with recreation and the city’s prized trail system. 

Six Mile Marsh Prairie Restoration

MCWD purchased the 112-acre Halverson and 97-acre Dimler farms in Minnetrista, which drain into Six Mile Marsh and Creek shortly before they enter Halsted Bay. The MCWD also owns an easement on the adjacent Burroughs property. The project included restoration of the 209 acres to prairie and oak savanna. The restoration decreases phosphorus runoff into Six Mile Creek and Halsted Bay by 120 to 180 pounds per year and improves wildlife habitat.