Historically, counties were responsible for establishing and maintaining public drainage systems including ditches. Most ditches were established in the early 1900’s to promote agricultural activities on lands that were marginally productive because of wet conditions or to enable other uses. These areas were ditched and tiled, through establishment of a public drainage system under Minnesota Statute Chapter 103E, so more land would be in agricultural production or in other use.
In areas that have since become urbanized, the need for agricultural productivity and drainage disappeared. Open ditches in urban areas were replaced with subsurface storm sewers. Often times the storm sewers were constructed in different locations and alignment than that of the ditch they replaced and the old channels were filled in. In the more rural areas of the District, the ditches remain, for the most part, open channels.
The District petitioned Hennepin County to transfer responsibility for the ditches to MCWD in 1971. The petition states that MCWD intended to define the function of the ditches. The authority for Judicial Ditch 2 (Six-Mile Creek) was transferred by court order on March 27, 1972 (a judicial ditch is located in more than one county). The authority for the seven Hennepin County Ditches was transferred by Hennepin County Board resolution on March 28, 1972.
The eight public ditches for which the District is responsible are:
- Judicial Ditch 2 – Six Mile Creek (mainly open channel)
- County Ditch 10 – Painter Creek (mainly open channel)
- County Ditch 14 – from St. Louis Park into Lake Calhoun (storm sewer)
- County Ditch 15 – into Gleason Lake (open channel/sewer)
- County Ditch 17 – from Edina to Lake Calhoun (storm sewer)
- County Ditch 27 – part of Long Lake Creek (mainly open channel)
- County Ditch 29 – from St. Louis Park into Lake Calhoun (storm sewer)
- County Ditch 32 – out of Gleason Lake in Wayzata (open channel/sewer)
Figure 24 shows the general locations of County/Judicial Ditches within the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. The term “ditch” as used here generally refers to a public drainage system established under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 103E.
The District’s ditches fall into three general categories: stormsewer, open ditch, and streams.
- The stormsewer category includes those ditches that have been converted to stormsewer along most if not all of their length and stormsewer now serves to drain the area. These ditches are County Ditch 14, County Ditch 17, and County Ditch 29.
- The open ditch category includes those ditches that are still open channels and maintain originally constructed form. These are County Ditch 10, County Ditch 15, and County Ditch 32. The third category is streams.
- The streams category includes those public ditches that were established to improve the drainage of the natural stream system that was present at the time of establishment. These ditches have generally maintained some of their natural stream qualities. These are Judicial Ditch 2 (Six Mile Creek) and County Ditch 27 (Long Lake Creek).
In addition, the ditches could also be classified by primary current land use as those that remain mostly agricultural and those that are not agricultural. The agricultural ditches are Judicial Ditch 2, County Ditch 10, and County Ditch 27. All of the other ditches are in areas that that have become primarily residential and commercial and no longer have agricultural land uses.
In 2003 the District compiled and organized records available from Hennepin and Carver Counties, including construction documentation, surveys and benefited parcel information. The District has performed a limited amount of maintenance on these conveyances. The Upper Watershed Stream Assessment completed in 2004 included detailed inspections of Six Mile Creek (JD 2), Painter Creek (CD 10), Long Lake Creek (includes part of CD 27), and Gleason Creek (includes part of CD 32). A detailed physical inventory was completed and problem areas and recommendations for improvement identified.