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Six Mile Marsh Diagnostic Study

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Project Status: 
Current Status: 

(Updated July 15, 2013) -- A draft of the study is complete (download a draft of the diagnostic below). Staff presented the findings to the MCWD Board in June 2013. Staff is now working with the MCWD Board (Planning and Policy Committee) to develop a short-term and long-term implementation plan for the Six Mile Creek subwatershed. Staff will use the findings, along with input from communities and partners, to develop a long-term plan for protecting and improving the Six Mile Creek subwatershed. 

Man taking a soil core sample out of a lake
About this project: 

The Six Mile Creek subwatershed, located to the southwest of Lake Minnetonka, contains a series of interconnected lakes and streams that eventually drain into Lake Minnetonka's Halsted Bay. 

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) is exploring ways to improve water quality throughout this complex system, beginning with a comprehensive study of the issues and opportunities presented within this subwatershed. 

The Six Mile Creek Diagnostic Study will establish a baseline condition of the health of lakes and streams within the subwatershed.  This work will include:

  • Using soil core samples of the lake beds to help determine each lake's nutrient content 
  • Examining the lakes' fish and plant communities
  • Investigating changes in land use and their effect on water quality

This information will be used to develop water quality improvement goals within the subwatershed and identify projects, programs and initiatives that can be implemented to meet these goals.

Study Goals

  • Develop refined goals for water quality and phosphorus loads. Create a prioritized list of projects to meet these new goals 
  • Identify opportunities for reducing nutrients in lakes and streams
  • Identify opportunities for in-lake restoration, such as carp management, aquatic vegetation improvement and restoration of fisheries 
  • Identify opportunities for long-term protection of lakes and streams
  • Improve ecological integrity in the subwatershed for the next decade as the area becomes increasingly developed

About Six Mile Creek Subwatershed

The Six Mile Creek subwatershed is a 27-square-mile drainage area along the southwestern boundary of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and includes the cities of St. Bonifacius, Victoria, Laketown Township, Minnetrista, and Watertown Township. 

The area is the most rural and undeveloped region in the MCWD and agriculture is its primary land use.  

The subwatershed contains several major lakes, including: Pierson, Wasserman, East and West Auburn, Steiger, Zumbra-Sunny, Stone, Lunsten and Parley. 

Six Mile Creek is mainly comprised of ditches running through large marsh areas and connects several lakes. It begins at the outlet of Pierson Lake and flows 12 miles to Halsted Bay on Lake Minnetonka, which is considered impaired for its high nutrient content.

Recap: Six Mile Creek July 19, 2012 Community Meeting (Victoria City Hall)

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the City of Victoria hosted over twenty residents, policy makers and staff at the July 19th 2012, Six Mile Creek Diagnostic meeting. The meeting featured an informational portion in which staff described the purpose, scope and methodology of the study. Holly Kreft from the City of Victoria spoke about how the city will use the results from the diagnostic study and the results from the evening's engagement portion. Dr. Peter Sorensen, from the University of Minnesota, gave a fascinating presentation on the history of carp in Europe and America as well as details of his recent work in Lake Susan on estimating a population of carp, tracking their movements and ultimately removing carp from the system.

After Dr. Sorenson presented, the meeting moved into the community input portion of the evening, led by Alex Gehrig of the Freshwater Society. The question we asked participants to focus on and discuss was: "What are the significant water resource issues in your area?"  The engagement portion of the evening produced lively discussion and preliminary results suggested that game fish health, AIS control, runoff control and agricultural impacts were the most significant issues of concern for residents in Six Mile Creek subwatershed.

Top Concerns for Six Mile Creek Community Meeting Participants:

  • Game fish health
  • AIS control
  • Runoff control
  • Agricultural impacts
  • Development impacts
  • Aeration of shallow lakes/wetlands
  • Water quality (differences between lakes)
  • Management of lakes (public use)
  • Internal loading (How do we deal with it?)
  • Degraded wetlands (carp habitat)
  • Life after carp
  • What can lake associations and residents do now?

Study Sites:

LakePlant SurveyDepth SurveySoil Cores
WassermanX X
East AuburnX X
West AuburnX  
Carl KreyXX 
Zumbra *    
Stone  X
TurbidX X

Schedule subject to change based on budget and/or time constraints

* = Data on Steiger Lake and Zumbra Lake is being provided by the Three Rivers Parks District