Natural channel design for agricultural ditches in SW Minnesota

W. T. Christner, J. Magner, E. S. Verry, K. N. Brooks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


Agricultural drainage ditches are a common occurrence throughout the Minnesota River Valley. Current ditch construction utilizes a trapezoidal form engineered to contain both small and large volume flows. However, following high flows, sediment accumulation in the channel bottom necessitates periodic channel cleaning. This (inefficient) design results in annual costs to local governments and private citizens. Joint research by the University of Minnesota (UMN) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) investigated the use of a "compound" channel design to reduce and/or eliminate the need for periodic ditch maintenance. Compound channels incorporate smaller, self-maintained, "natural" channels within the larger flood channel geometry. An 800-m section of Judicial Ditch #8 (JD #8) in Swift County, MN was over-widened during routine cleanout maintenance. The over-widening allowed a smaller, low-flow channel with an active floodplain to establish within the larger flood channel, Measurements indicate a naturally stable B4 channel has developed within the larger flood channel. The smaller, stable channel allows for higher velocities during low flow conditions that efficiently move water and sediment. The ability of this channel design to transport sediment represents a potential savings in periodic clean-out maintenance. Additional benefits include enhanced fish and lowland bird habitat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSelf-Sustaining Solutions for Streams, Westlands, and Watersheds - Proceedings of the 2004 Conference
EditorsJ.L. D'Ambrosio
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004
Event2004 Self-Sustaining Solutions for Streams, Westlands, and Watersheds Conference - St Paul, MN, United States
Duration: Sep 12 2004Sep 15 2004

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 2004 Self-Sustaining Solutions for Streams, Wetlands, and Watersheds Conference


Other2004 Self-Sustaining Solutions for Streams, Westlands, and Watersheds Conference
CountryUnited States
CitySt Paul, MN


  • Aquatic habitat
  • Compound channel
  • Drainage
  • Drainage channels
  • Minnesota
  • Natural channel design
  • Sediment

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