Blue Earth River TMDL - Turbidity

Located in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, the Greater Blue Earth River Basin (GBERB) includes three major watersheds, the Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and Watonwan. The basin covers approximately 3,540 square miles (2.3 million acres) and includes 11 counties in Minnesota and 3 in Iowa. Based on the 2000 census, the basin has an estimated population of 92,202, with 60% living in cities and 40% rural areas, with 51 municipalities in total. The primary urban areas include the city of Fairmont, Blue Earth, and portions of the city of Mankato. The majority of the basin is used for agricultural purposes (~88%), primarily for corn and soybean production, along with various numerous livestock operations.

As compared to other Minnesota River major watersheds, the Blue Earth, Le Sueur, and to a lesser extent, Watonwan river, have been shown to contribute disproportionately high sediment loads to the Minnesota River. For these reasons, initiating this Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) was a priority at both the local and state level.

This TMDL project addresses the multiple turbidity impairments within the Greater Blue Earth River basin. The TMDL study is currently underway and being developed by the Minnesota State University Mankato - Water Resources Center. A stakeholder committee representing urban, agriculture, watershed projects, government and citizens is currently under development. 

Map and location

Map of Greater Blue Earth River Basin

TMDL report and implementation plan

Other documents

Archive of events and documents

General stakeholder meetings

The dates and times of these meetings are still in development. To ensure the most opportunity for all stakeholders to be involved in the meetings, the meeting schedule is being developed based on the response to the mailings and questionnaire available above on this Web site.    

  • Monday, August 25, 2008 - 6:30-7:30 pm
    Blue Earth County Library Auditorium, 100 E. Main St.
    Mankato, MN 56001
  • Wednesday, October 29, 2008 - 7:00-8:00 pm
    Winnebago Municipal Center Building, 140 Main Street South Winnebago, MN, 56098
  • Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 - 7:00-8:00 pm (tentative)
    Location to be determined

The MPCA presented "TMDL Impacts on Stormwater Permits" on April 18 in Mankato and April 19 in St. Paul. The meeting in St. Paul is available for viewing in the webcast below:

The Le Sueur River Watershed Project kicked off with a map party April 10 in Pemberton, Minn. For more details, see the Ripples blog and the Mankato Free Press story.

The MPCA recognized the stakeholder, technical and science advisory groups for the South Metro Mississippi and Minnesota River TMDLs on March 21 in Redwood Falls and March 29 in Red Wing.

The MPCA gave an overview on the South Metro Mississippi TMDL project at a Water Quality Goals meeting Dec. 6, 2011, in Mankato, hosted by Clean Up our River Environment and several other groups.

Technical team advisory meetings

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2008 - 1:00-2:30 pm
    USDA Service Center , 1160 S. Victory Drive, Mankato MN, 56001.
  • Due to the extension of the project timeline, and the busy season for many of the technical team members, we will not be meeting in November. The next meeting will be held in early 2009.

Helpful background information and links

Federal and state requirements for TMDLs

Why is turbidity a concern?

Where do the water quality standards come from?

Where does the data come from for these TMDLs?

What is the Clean Water Legacy Act? What are its rules and requirements?

Additional links:

Contact Information

Paul Davis
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
1230 South Victory Drive
Mankato, MN 56001
Phone: 507-389-6974

Cathy Rofshus
Public Information Officer
MPCA Rochester-Mankato office
Phone: 507-206-2608