Judicial Ditches 11/12, 13, and 14
Minnesota drainage law involves a broad spectrum of entities and considerations. Drainage systems in Minnesota may be under the jurisdiction of one of several different authorities. The most common are county board of commissioners, joint county drainage authorities, and watershed districts. Pelican River Watershed District is the jurisdictional authority for a number of public drainage systems, including Judicial Ditch 11/12, 13, and 14.
Drainage System Inventory Project
In 2014 the Becker Soil and Water Conservation District and Pelican River Watershed District were successful in securing Clean Water Legacy funds from the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). The project aim was to develop a GIS based inventory of the current ditch conditions, including culvert elevations and locations, buffer width, areas of erosion, and adjacent land use.
During the 2015 and 2016 seasons, the District conducted an extensive inventory of the four public drainage ditches within its jurisdiction -- Becker County Ditches 11, 12, 13, and 14. The inventory results helped the District and the Becker Soil and Water Conservation District target and prioritize areas for future best management practices.
Ditches 11 & 12 (also known as Campbell Creek), located north of Floyd lake, had a few areas along the ditch system with "improvement potential" for sediment and phosphorous reductions, mainly along Ditch 12, in the downstream wooded area where severe streambank erosion was noted in multiple areas. There was only one potential location in the cultivated area for improvements as this area had extensive installations of best management practices completed in 2011 and 2012. The report also noted various beaver activity that had caused localized flooding and vegetation loss in certain areas.
Ditch 13 & 14, there were no "improvement potential" areas identified, only beaver dams or debris were noted which are addressed through the drainage system maintenance. Most of Ditches 13 & 14 run through wetland areas or through the City of Detroit Lakes urban area.
The inventory results were sent to landowners with "improvement potential". The District received positive landowner feedback indicating a high interest in working together to implement improvements on their property.
The District continually monitors the ditch systems for water quality and ditch condition. In recent years, the biggest expense has been reducing the beaver population and removing dams to keep water flowing. Areas of concentration have been the Rice Lake Wetland area and the Campbell Creek area.
The District contracts with local trappers who eliminate the beaver and will often hand remove dams. It is sometimes necessary to hire contractors who operate excavators to remove larger structures once the beaver are trapped out.