Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD)
About the organization
The MCWD is the regional governmental unit chiefly responsible for protecting the water resources of the Minnehaha Creek watershed located in Hennipen and Carver counties. The District covers approximately 181 square miles that ultimately drain into the Minnehaha Creek, which then enters the Mississippi River. The watershed includes natural treasures such as Minnehaha Creek, Lake Minnetonka, The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, and Minnehaha Falls. There are eight major creeks, 129 lakes and thousands of wetlands within the MCWD. The MCWD includes all or part of 27 cities and three townships. The areas of action include: water quality protection; storm water management; flood/erosion control; lake level management (via Grays Bay Dam); lake restoration; and wetland management. The goal of the MCWD is to enhance the water quality of the water resources within the Minnehaha Creek watershed while at the same time controlling flooding.
Respondent: Pam Blixt, president, board of managers
How important to you is the river or stream nearest your home, and why?
I have lived near the creek most of my life and I can see it from my home. It provides a wild life corridor which enhances my enjoyment of city life. I have seen wild turkey, mink, beaver, opossum, great blue heron, egret, black crown night heron, migrating warblers, nesting wood ducks, and loads of butterflies, amphibians, and the bugs that feed them all. I live here because of the creek.
How can citizens find out about the condition of the river nearest their homes or communities?
We post on our Web site annual water quality report cards for numerous lakes and the major creeks along with the historical data we have collected. The graphs indicate the trends. We also post the flow of the creek from the dam.
What can homeowners do to make their land and property more river friendly? What can farmers do? Business owners?
Homeowners: good lawn care practices that reduce runoff of fertilizers or pesticides, grass clippings, grit, and leaves.
Farmers: Increase the size of buffer strips next to ditches, wetlands, lakes, and streams.
Business owners: Reduce impervious surfaces.
What are the most important actions citizens can take to help clean up Minnesota's rivers?
Be aware that they live in a watershed and that rain runoff does not go to a treatment plant but to a local lake, wetland, or stream.
What are policymakers doing to enhance the current and future health of Minnesota's rivers? What should they be doing?
We have been stripping resources away from agencies devoted to much needed efforts in enforcement and support. We have a patchwork approach to watershed management—non-profits, joint powers boards, regional, local, state, and national government efforts. Effort should be made to consolidate and coordinate efforts with adequate resources.
River policymakers must address diverse and often competing elements such as the environment, commerce, flood control, recreation, and land use—but from your point of view, what overarching values should guide how we use, treat, and manage rivers?
We should always remember that we live downstream from someone, and the Golden Rule. How we act will impact others.
How can we manage the conflict of private land use and the best management practices for our rivers?
Incentives need to be offered to farmers, developers, and businesses. Regulatory efforts will not do the whole job and increase conflict.
How important is the development of a land-use plan in the watersheds that feed our rivers? Do you have a land-use plan?
Good land-use planning is incredibly important. We are part of a program called Project NEMO (Non-Point Education for Municipal Officials) geared to educating local planners and city council members about how their decisions impact lakes, rivers, and streams.
What programs are available—and are more needed—to educate and inform citizens, river users, river property owners, and policymakers about river issues?
See above. More resources need to be devoted to education for prevention to avoid costly lake and river restoration capitol improvement projects in the future.
How does Mississippi River quality change as it flows from the headwaters to the Twin Cities and beyond? What is Minnesota's accountability to the states that have to treat, filter, and use the water after it leaves Minnesota?
Twenty percent of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is due to contribution from our state. We need to be accountable for our actions which impact others.