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Minnesota has more than 27,000 miles of open ditches, and from the earliest days, as depicted in this old newspaper clipping, they were designed on what might be a flawed premise. The channels were designed only for peak flow events, and not the low water flows that occur through much of the season. That has led to never ending and costly maintenance due to sediment build up. Submitted photo

Can 'self-sustaining ditches' clean up waters?

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WILLMAR -- There are 27,000 miles of open ditches in Minnesota, and quite possibly, every mile has been built based on a flawed design.

Engineers have always designed ditches to accommodate the volume of water expected at a peak flow event, according to Dr. Bruce Wilson, a professor of engineering at the University of Minnesota.

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