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North Fork Crow River Watershed



Watershed at a glance

The North Fork Crow River watershed covers 949,107 acres. The headwaters for the North Fork Crow River are located in Pope County at the outlet of Grove Lake. The river flows about 120 miles southeast from Grove Lake to the confluence with the South Fork Crow River in Rockford and on to the confluence with the Mississippi River near Dayton. The Middle Fork Crow River which joins the North Fork near Manannah is a major tributary to the North Fork Crow River. Parts of Pope, Kandiyohi, Stearns, Meeker and Wright counties are in this watershed. Major cities are Litchfield, St. Michael, Buffalo, Otsego, Dayton and Rockford.

Hydrologic Unit Code (HUC) 07010204 [More Info]

Intensive monitoring start year 2007 [More Info]

Major lakesMajor rivers and streams

Diamond, Green, Rice, Koronis

Crow, Jewitts Creek Grove Creek, Mill Creek


Land use in the North Fork Crow River watershed is mostly agricultural with the exception of the eastern portion that is metro fringe urban and commercial.

Many of lakes and reaches of the North Fork Crow River do not meet water quality standards for beneficial uses such as aquatic recreation, drinking, and swimming. The main lake pollutant is phosphorus, causing algae blooms in summer months, and reaches of the North Fork Crow River are listed for biological, bacteria, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity impairments.

    What's being done

    The biological monitoring began in 2007 as a pilot/demonstration project of the new watershed approach. Since then, additional field data have been collected to aid with assessment, stressor identification, TMDL and WRAPS report development as well as strategies for restoration and protection of the water resources. Local sponsors for this project include CROW, NFCRWD, and the MFCRWD. The TMDLs were developed by Wenck Associates, Inc. and the HSPF modeling was conducted by RESPEC. The first ten year cycle for the North Fork Crow watershed project is scheduled to conclude mid 2014. The following documents for this project are available in either draft or final version.

    • Report summarizing results of the biological data for streams.
    • A lake assessment report
    • Stressor ID reports
    • HSPF modeling report
    • TMDL document
    • WRAPS report

    Strategy development projects and reports

    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

    New reports available

    Watershed Network News

    Communication among watershed organization staff enhances efforts to restore and protect water quality. Watershed Network News is a periodic, informal e-newsletter for professional staff and others with watershed projects and districts, with a primary focus on issues related to the Minnesota River Basin and Crow River.

    Stay connected

    Can’t make a meeting? Stay up to date by receive bi-monthly newsletter about current topics in the watershed by signing up for CROW E-Currents. Go to and sign up under “Keep in touch with CROW.” Check out the Crow River Lakes & Streams Facebook page for news and events.


    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
    Crow River Middle Fork Watershed Restoration
    Crow River South Fork WS Restoration Protection
    Crow River TMDL WQ Data Enrichment
    Ducks Unlimited MN DNR Shallow Lake Wildlife Study
    Enhancing Volunteer Monitoring in the Crow R WS
    Green Lake Eurasian Watermilfoil/Stormwater Study
    HSPF Model Framework Devlp. for Sauk R, Crow River
    Middle Fork Crow River WS Enhancing Volunteer
    North Fork Crow IWM Phase II
    North Fork Crow River Major Watershed
    Pioneer-Sarah Creek Watershed Assessment
    Surface Water Compliance at Closed Landfills
    Three Rivers Park District
    Upper Mississippi R Information Access Initiative
    Upper Mississippi River Basin GenSen Modeling
    Wright County Citizens Lake Monitoring

    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
    North Fork Crow River Major Watershed WRAP Strategy
    Elm Creek Watershed Mgmt Commission WRAP Strategy
    Crow River Watershed - Mainstem & Lower North Fork - Conventional Pollutants - Part 1
    Pioneer-Sarah Creek Watershed Management Commission WRAP Strategy
    Ann and Emma Lakes Nutrient TMDL
    Lake Sarah Excess Nutrients TMDL Project
    Diamond Lake TMDL Project in the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District
    Rice Lake Nutrient TMDL
    Fountain, Malardi and Dean Lakes TMDL


      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
    Chloride Winter Maintenance Trng & Certification
    Crow River Basin Rural WQ Improvements
    Crow River Basin Rural WQ Improvements
    Crow River Basin Sediment Reduction
    Crow River Middle Fork Watershed Restoration
    Crow River Watershed Surface Water Runoff
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    Crow River Watershed WQ Enhmt Proj
    North Fork Crow River Major Watershed
    Rice Lake & Koronis Lake
    Sauk River Major Watershed
    Stormwater Mgmt Eco-Sensitive Watersheds
    Upper Mississippi River Source Water Protection
    Water Quality Improvement Continuation


    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.



    Maggie Leach, State Program Administrator Principal

    Brainerd Office

    Crow River Organization of Water (CROW)

    Diane Sander
    763-682-1933, ext. 3

    Crow River Lakes and Streams Facebook page

    Pope Soil & Water Conservation District


    North Fork Crow River Watershed District


    Stearns Soil & Water Conservation District

    320-251-7800, ext. 3

    Kandiyohi Soil & Water Conservation District


    Middle Fork Crow River Watershed District


    Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (Spicer Office)

    Area Hydrologist, Ethan Jenzen
    320-796-2161 ext. 232

    Meeker Soil & Water Conservation District


    Wright Soil & Water Conservation District

    763-682-1970 or 763-682-1933, ext. 3

    Hennepin Environmental Services

    Ellen Sones


    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.


    Twin Cities Metro Watersheds

    Twin Cities Metropolitan Area watersheds

    There are 33 watershed districts (WD) and watershed management organizations (WMO) in the Twin Cities Metro Area. These metro watersheds are in 8 major (8-digit) watersheds: the Rum River, Lower St. Croix, Mississippi River (Twin Cities), Mississippi River (Lake Pepin), Minnesota River (Shakopee), South Fork Crow River, North Fork Crow River, and Cannon River watersheds. These WDs/WMOs are formed and regulated by MN Rules Chapter 8410.

    A number of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Studies and Implementation Plans have already been completed or are underway for impaired waters in metro watersheds. Moving forward TMDL studies will be done in conjunction with watershed restoration and protection strategies (WRAPS) reports, which will contain the needed implementation strategy elements. Metro WRAPS will follow the timing and guidance of the watershed approach, but note that these will be completed at the metro WD/WMO scale.

    MPCA staff also review metro watershed management plans that are developed by watershed districts and watershed management organizations.


    A list of MPCA staff contacts by metro watershed is available on the Twin Cities Metro watersheds page.

    Last modified on October 02, 2015 10:10

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