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MCWD Square Mileage Update

February 12, 2018


MCWD Watershed MapThe Minnehaha Creek Watershed District shrank in 2017…by 3 square miles. MCWD now comprises 178 square miles of territory, down from 181 square miles. Why the change? There are few reasons. 

One is that often there are large parcels of land that cross watershed borders, but because political boundaries don’t follow watershed lines, the parcels end up being placed in one watershed or another for legal reasons. As these parcels are subdivided over time, we are able to reassign smaller parcels to the appropriate watershed based on water drainage from property.

Another reason MCWD’s square mileage is changing is that over time water drainage changes on the landscape as properties are developed or altered. For example, installing a storm sewer system may impact if the water flows to one watershed or another.

Lastly, technology has made more accurate information available, meaning we can more precisely track hydrologic (watershed) boundaries. An example of this is the use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which is a remote sensing method that uses a pulsed laser to measure distance from the height of the device to the ground. This method provides 3-D information about the shape of the landscape and characteristics on the surface, which means we can more closely determine where water flows.