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Chippewa River Watershed



Watershed at a glance

The Chippewa River watershed covers 2,085 square miles and drains portions of eight counties in west central Minnesota. The northeast part of the watershed tends to be hillier, wooded, and more easily eroded, while the southwest portion tends to be flatter with more agricultural. The watershed begins in the southern part of Otter Tail County and ends 130 miles south in the flatter agricultural land at Montevideo.

Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 07020005 [More Info]

Intensive monitoring start year 2009 [More Info]

Major lakesMajor rivers and streams

Oscar, Chippewa, Norway, Reno, Emily

Chippewa, Cottonwood Creek, Mud Creek, Shakopee Creek, Little Chippewa River


The geology of the Chippewa River watershed includes a complex mixture of moraines and till, lake deposits, and outwash plains. The hilly moraines result in a high potential for erosion of sediment into streams. Nearly 90% of the land is privately owned. Agriculture accounted for approximately 68% of the available acres in 1996. Corn and soybeans make up a majority of raised crops, and small grains, hay, and grasslands make up the majority of the balance.

    What's being done

    Intensive watershed monitoring started in 2009. when crews went to 64 sampling sites in the watershed to collect fish data, macroinvertebrate data, quantitative habitat, and water chemistry. Sixteen of the sites had additional water chemistry data collected two times a month throughout the summer. One site was sampled for fish contaminants. The MPCA has also sampled lakes of 500 acres or more for the 2009 and 2010 sampling seasons. A total of 13 lakes were sampled in the watershed in the two years. All of the lakes of 10 acres or more and that have an adequate dataset are assessed as well.

    MPCA's watershed approach

    Since 2007, the MPCA and its partners have begun implementing a 10-year rotation for watershed restoration plans to address Minnesota's waters at the major watershed level. Find out more about MPCA's watershed approach.

    Monitoring and assessment reports

    [+] See large map

    Watershed news

    The 10% solution

    Over the years, farmers have adopted many practices to reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment. The Chippewa River 10 Percent Project aims to help farmers find profitable ways to increase planting of grasses and other crops that better protect water quality.

    Minnesota Watershed Professionals Network

    Communication among watershed organization staff enhances efforts to restore and protect water quality. The Watershed Professionals Network is designed to help watershed professional staff share their experiences and learn how to make their outreach efforts more effective, including a monthly e-newsletter and meetings in the spring and fall.

    Swimmable, fishable, fixable?

    New report explains what we’ve learned so far about Minnesota waters.

    Nutrient Planning Portal

    The Minnesota nutrient planning portal is designed to communicate the extensive research concerning the Nutrient Reduction Strategy and provide resources to accomplish reductions in nutrients across Minnesota.

    Watershed approach videos

    These videos offer a great overview of our watershed approach to protecting and restoring our lakes, rivers, and wetlands.


    Restoration and protection

    The restoration and protection process

    The MPCA and partner organizations evaluate water conditions, establish improvement goals and priorities, and take actions designed to restore or protect water quality on a 10-year cycle.


      Monitoring and assessment

    Projects in this watershed to test water quality conditions and determine whether our lakes, rivers, and wetlands are meeting state water quality standards. [More info]

    Project NameStatus
    Chippewa River Watershed Intensive Monitoring
    Chippewa River Watershed Project SWAG
    Douglas County Citizens Lake Monitoring
    Ducks Unlimited MN DNR Shallow Lake Wildlife Study
    HSPF Framework Development of Existing Models
    Lake Minnewaska Resource Investigation
    Minnesota River Sediment Source Research
    Ottertail County Citizen Lake Monitoring
    Pope County COLA Lake Monitoring Program

    Monitoring and assessment reports and data

    Lakes and stream segments with condition and monitoring information
    Lakes and streams are divided into "assessment units" for monitoring.

    Impairments in this watershed listed by lake or stream segment
    Generally, a waterbody has an impairment when it exceeds a particular pollutant standard.


      Strategy development projects

    Projects in this watershed that establish federal- or state-required plans for restoring water quality for impaired waters, or protecting high-quality waters. [More info]

    Project NameStatus
    Mercury Pollutant Reduction Plan
    Chippewa River Major Watershed WRAP Strategy
    Chippewa River - Fecal Coliform
    Chippewa River Watershed Turbidity TMDL
    Pope County Eight Lakes TMDL
    Chippewa River - Ammonia


      Implementation activities

    Projects in this watershed to put water restoration or protection measures in place, ranging from best management practices to reduce runoff from fields or streets, to fixes to wastewater treatment facilities, to education activities for citizens and landowners. Implementation projects are supported by local, state and federal government sources, including Minnesota's new Clean Water Fund.

    Our partners in the watershed are continually involved in these kinds of activities. See Contacts tab.

    Project NameStatus
    Chippewa County Watershed Continuation
    Chippewa River East Branch Continuation
    Chippewa River Lower Main Stem Subbasin
    Chippewa River Major Watershed
    Chippewa River Major Watershed
    Chippewa River Major Watershed
    Chippewa River Major Watershed
    Chippewa River Phosphorus Reduction Practices
    Chippewa River Spring Crk Dry Weather & Lines
    Chippewa River Upper Main Stem
    Conservation Drainage Symposiums
    Little Chippewa River Implementation
    Minnesota River Community Clean-Ups for WQ
    Shakopee Creek Headwaters


    Water data tools

    Search for your lake or stream's assessment data
    See information about your local lake or stream.


    DNR Lake Finder
    Find information about 4500+ lakes, rivers, and streams


    legacy-amedment-logoThis work is supported by the Clean Water Legacy fund.



    Paul Wymar, Environmental Specialist 3

    Marshall Office

    Chippewa River Watershed Project

    320-269-2139, ext. 116


    Watershed Map

    Many of Minnesota’s lakes and streams do not currently meet water-quality standards because of pollution such as excess sediment or nutrients, bacteria or mercury. These waters are considered “impaired.” For more information, visit the impaired waters page.

    The toggles show impaired waters and monitoring stations. Click on a site for more information.

    Impairments in this watershed, listed by lake or stream segment
    Generally, a waterbody has an impairment when it exceeds a particular pollutant standard.


    Last modified on April 15, 2015 16:10

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