Upper Riley Creek Ecological Enhancement Project

Map of Project Location

  1. Matt Unmacht

    Water Resources Coordinator
    Phone: (952) 227-1168

  2. Ryan Pinkalla

    Water Resources Technician
    Phone: (952) 227-1173

The City has partnered with the Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District to stabilize and improve a stretch of Upper Riley Creek. The overall goal of this project is to provide an ecologically diverse stream reach that significantly reduces streambank erosion, provides diverse habitat layers, improves the ecological functions, improves maintenance and inspection access, and enhances the public’s access and their understanding of why stable stream systems are important.

Surrounding land use has changed drastically in recent decades, from primarily agricultural land use to more industrial and residential land uses. This has increased the amount of impervious surface and runoff within the watershed, which has caused increased erosion in Upper Riley Creek. This portion of Upper Riley Creek, between Highway 5 and Lake Susan, currently has a channel bed that is primarily sand and silt with limited riffle/pool variability. The project will enhance the ecology of Upper Riley Creek by providing greater stream depth variability, more channel bed substructure types, and varied channel velocities. The proposed project will remove accumulated debris from within the channel, reduce erosion and improve water quality while also improving natural stream habitat for aquatic organisms. Providing better floodplain connectivity for Upper Riley Creek also enhances surrounding riparian habitat and improves the ecological function through the corridor.

By establishing a stable stream corridor, the project will also help address the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) identified nutrient impairment in Lake Susan (which this reach of Riley Creek directly discharges into), as well as Rice Marsh Lake, and Lake Riley. The lower portion of the project’s location in Lake Susan Park provides opportunities for interpretive signage and future programming to educate the public on the importance of diverse stream corridors.

This project is currently in the planning phase.