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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  701P0904,  . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17403)
Authors:   W. T. Christner Jr., J. Magner, E. S. Verry, K.N. Brooks
Keywords:   Drainage, drainage channels, natural channel design, sediment, aquatic habitat, compound channel, Minnesota

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.

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