For generations, Minnesotans have valued and enjoyed the water bodies of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD). For early settlers, they were important transportation corridors and sources of food and water. In the late 1800s, Minnehaha Creek became an international tourist destination as a result of Longfellow's poem "Song of Hiawatha." And in the mid 1920s, Lake Minnetonka became home to one of Minnesota's earliest amusement parks, located just along its shore in current-day Excelsior. Currently, homeowners depend on valuable natural resources to maintain their property values, provide recreation and quiet reflection, and for the conservation of wildlife and other natural resources.<--break->

Recognizing the value of all Minnesota waterways and surrounding natural areas, the Minnesota Legislature passed the 1955 Watershed District Act, which authorized the creation of local government units called watershed districts. The districts were created to help manage the entire land area from which rain and snowmelt drain to lakes, streams, or wetlands. As outlined by the Act, watershed districts use scientific principles to develop successful ways to manage and improve water quality, prevent flood damage, protect public health, and preserve our natural resources.

Under the legislature's authorization, the MCWD was established by Hennepin and Carver counties on March 9, 1967. The MCWD performs a variety of functions, including:

  • Conducting water quality surveys and resource inventories of local lakes and streams, as well as scientific and trend analysis of hydrological data
  • Flood management and hydrologic modeling
  • Researching, engineering, and building structures to improve water quality and prevent flooding
  • Conserving and protecting important wetlands, water bodies and upland resources
  • Managing waterways and drainage systems
  • Restoring degraded natural resources
  • Regulating, conserving, and ensuring responsible use of water and related natural resources in the District
  • Educating and empowering the public to build understanding and personal action to protect natural resources

Over the years, the MCWD has implemented many significant projects and improvement plans to meet its water quality and management goals, and to educate and engage the public and their communities. Some of the more recent and significant projects include:

Moving forward, the MCWD will continue to work with local units of government, lake and neighborhood associations, homeowners, the public and other stakeholders to ensure good water quality and careful management of the region's valuable natural resources.

50th Anniversary President's Blogs:
Early History of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed
Settlement of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed
Tourism and Agriculture in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed
Fifty Years Ago a New Era of Water Protection began in the Minnehaha Creek Watershed
The Effort to Improve Water Quality in Lake Minnetonka in the 1970s and 1980s
Chain of Lakes Partnership
When Business and Nature Mix
In Pursuit of a Balanced Urban Ecology

50th Anniversary Video Series:

50th Anniversary History Brochure