1.0 Introduction and Summary

The Minnehaha Creek subwatershed encompasses all the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD or District) downstream of the Grays Bay dam, and is commonly referred to as the “lower watershed.”  The cities of Plymouth, Wayzata, Minnetonka, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Edina, Minneapolis, and Richfield have land within this subwatershed.   The subwatershed is drained by the 22-mile long Minnehaha Creek, which outlets to the Mississippi River in Minnehaha Falls Park.  The central subwatershed is drained by the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes that includes Brownie, Cedar, Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, and Harriet.  Other major lakes in the subwatershed include Nokomis, Hiawatha, Diamond, and Powderhorn.  Several other smaller lakes and wetlands dot the subwatershed.

While some of the lakes meet or nearly meet their water quality goals, six lakes have been designated Impaired Waters for excess nutrients.  Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies are currently underway to diagnose the source of those excess nutrients and to prepare an implementation plan for reducing nutrient loading and achieving water quality goals.  Water quality in Minnehaha Creek is about average for the ecoregion, although it too has been designated an Impaired Water for its impaired fish community.   The Chain of Lakes and the Creek are regional recreational and water resources.  Several high-value wetlands are present in the subwatershed.  Springs and seeps abound in the Mississippi Gorge area, including the high-value groundwater resource Camp Coldwater spring.

Over the next ten years, the District’s focus in the Minnehaha Creek subwatershed will be on:

  • Improving water quality in lakes that are currently impaired and preventing future water quality degradation.
  • Restoring ecological integrity in Minnehaha Creek through streambank restoration, habitat improvement, improved quality, and more stable flows.
  • Addressing existing streambank erosion and preventing future erosion.