St. Croix River Basin: Interagency Water Resource Management Planning Effort

St. Croix Interagency Basin Planning Team

The St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team consists of federal, state and local members working cooperatively to protect and enhance water resources in the St. Croix River basin. The team includes four signatory members:

Cooperating members:

2011 Strategic Plan

The St. Croix Basin Water Resources Planning Team (Basin Team) is currently in a period of transition, moving from a period of intensive scientific study of phosphorus issues to a period of TMDL Implementation. With the Lake St. Croix Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) setting the targets for nutrient reduction goals across the basin, the Basin Team is at a crossroads. It is because of this crossroad that the Basin Team decided that it was important to embark on a strategic planning effort. This effort enabled the Basin Team to unite our next efforts under a shared vision, mission, and goals. Below is a link to the report which details the outcomes of the planning process, and lays the groundwork for the Basin Team in the foreseeable future.

Basin-wide phosphorus reduction goal

Rapid population growth and accompanying land-use changes have affected the water resources of the St. Croix River Basin. Based on projected population growth in the St. Croix Basin, water resources will continue to degrade within the current regulatory path. In response to this threat, the Basin Planning Team conducted a detailed review of nutrient and sediment research and developed recommended water quality goals that would return Lake St. Croix to the conditions that existed prior to 1950, before major ecological changes were experienced. These goals will require a 20-percent reduction in total phosphorus loading within the St. Croix Basin.

The report, “St. Croix Basin Phosphorus-Based Water Quality Goals,” presents a summary of the significant research reviewed by the Basin Team. The report addresses the goal-setting process followed by the Basin Planning Team and contains the recommended water quality goals and suggested strategies for implementation.   The report can be accessed at this Web link:

On April 6, 2006, an agreement was signed by leaders of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources committing their agencies to work cooperatively to achieve the 20-percent phosphorus reduction goal. This agreement has set the agenda for the Basin Planning Team through 2009. Since the signing of the Nutrient Agreement, the 20 percent phosphorus reduction goal has been widely communicated throughout the basin and region, has been endorsed by local partners and is being considered in ongoing studies, rehabilitation projects and land use decisions.

Water quality monitoring in the St. Croix Basin

Understanding and responding to threats to water quality requires a continuing supply of water quality data. To that end, the “Monitoring Plan for the St. Croix River" was completed and updated annually, or as needed. It provides information on current monitoring activities and is intended to guide future monitoring, and to measure progress toward the basin’s phosphorus reduction goal. The specific monitoring objectives identified in the plan are:

  • Determine nutrient and sediment concentration trends and loads for the mainstem of the St. Croix River and Lake St. Croix;
  • Determine nutrient and sediment loads for the selected tributaries used to track progress on tributary nutrient management goals;
  • Determine trends in biological indicators for a) Lake St. Croix, and b) mainstem and tributary locations (flowing water locations); and
  • Provide information used in the development and modification of mainstem and tributary nutrient models, which are used to predict various nutrient management scenarios.

This plan identifies monitoring priorities for the basin that will  guide and educate other agency members, organizations, and interested citizens groups pursuing shared water quality goals in the St. Croix River basin.  It is anticipated that the monitoring plan will be updated annually.

Basin planning status reports

Since 2001, the Basin Planning Team has prepared biennial status reports to provide up-to-date information on efforts to protect the quality of water resources of the St. Croix Basin and to create a unified report between the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Planning Status Reports provide information and direction for decision-making in the St. Croix Basin. The reports also summarize accomplishments of the Basin Team and activities within the Basin related to key water resources issues. These reports affirm the importance of phosphorus management, urban stormwater runoff control and water quality monitoring as the principal issues and challenges facing water quality managers in the basin. During 2008, the Basin Team has concentrated on the implementation of the 20 percent phosphorus-reduction goal through a loading study and implementation plan.