Grand Marais Outlet Restoration — Public Ditch Stabilization

Grand Marais Outlet Restoration 5 - Houston Engineering INC.
Grand Marais Outlet Restoration — Public Ditch Stabilization

Overview

To reverse 100 years of erosion damage, the project aimed to restore six miles of river, establishing fish passage, natural habitat, and stabilized gully.

 

Background

The previous outlet for the Grand Marais channel in Polk County was a 1-mile legal drainage ditch (cutoff ditch) that discharged directly into the Red River. The Grand Marais cutoff ditch was constructed in the early 1900s and had eroded and exhibited head cutting, resulting in bank failures, the loss of adjacent land, and approximately 700 tons of sediment entering the Red River annually.

The original outlet of the Grand Marais channel was abandoned when the outlet ditch was constructed, cutting off the 6-mile natural stream. The original channel had accumulated sediment over the past 100 years with minimal ability to maintain its natural state by conveying normal runoff events, leading to the loss of the natural resource benefits that the channel had provided.

The creation of the cutoff ditch resulted in the loss of habitat, ecosystem, land, and excessive sediment loading downstream to the Red River.

The Project

To reverse 100 years of damage, the Red Lake Watershed District aimed to restore the physical and hydrologic characteristics of the original 6-mile reach, converting it back into the primary outlet. The District retained Houston Engineering, Inc. (HEI) to develop a preliminary engineer’s report. An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) was conducted to ensure there were no significant impacts related to the project. HEI worked with the Polk County Drainage Authority to insure the restored Grand Marais Project provided an adequate outlet for the existing public drainage ditches that were accommodated by the existing outlet.

The recommended alternative diverts low flows from the cutoff ditch, allowing it to stabilize by diverting flows into the original 6-mile outlet channel. After presenting the report to the District, our team moved into the design phase to develop several possible alternatives. Construction was completed in 2015 after nearly 8 years of planning, design, and construction efforts. Because the project affected a public drainage ditch, proceedings in accordance with Minnesota Statute 103E.227 as well as an improvement of the outlet under Minnesota Statute 103E.221 were followed. HEI provided Polk County with the necessary information to provide the Board and the public information on the effects of the project so that they could make an educated decision to move forward with the project.

The restored hydrology sustains aquatic habitat and nearly 400 acres of wetland and prairie native vegetation habitat. The project also restored habitat to spawning and juvenile fish species and waterfowl while providing a restored riparian ecosystem for aquatic and terrestrial plant and upland animal species.

 

  • To reverse 100 years of damage, the Red Lake Watershed District aimed to restore the physical and hydrologic characteristics of the original 6-mile reach, converting it back into the primary outlet
  • Constructed channel provides restored wildlife, full flow diversion to the new channel, and lush river landscape in a historic river valley.
  • Channel catfish have already emerged as a fishing favorite, proving the fish passage elements are working as intended.
Project Details

Lorem Ipsum

Client: Red Lake Watershed District

Location: Area of East Grand Forks, MN

Project Highlights
  • To reverse 100 years of damage, the Red Lake Watershed District aimed to restore the physical and hydrologic characteristics of the original 6-mile reach, converting it back into the primary outlet
  • Constructed channel provides restored wildlife, full flow diversion to the new channel, and lush river landscape in a historic river valley.
  • Channel catfish have already emerged as a fishing favorite, proving the fish passage elements are working as intended.
Services

Ready to start a project?

Get in touch with our Environmental experts today.

Related Projects

Otter Creek Lake and Park Restoration Project
View More
Big Elk Lakes (Dam Site WP-7) Spillway Design
View More
Portal Lake (Dam Site WP-6) Geotechnical Engineering, Permitting, and Construction Phase Services
View More
Elkhorn Riverbank Stabilization
View More
Scroll to Top