Root River - Turbidity: TMDL Project

The Root River watershed provides some of the most outstanding recreational opportunities in Minnesota. Canoeing and fishing opportunities abound, and two state parks (Beaver Creek Valley, and Forestville) and a trout hatchery add to the region’s attractiveness. Yet its potential is limited, and its future threatened, by nonpoint source pollution that impairs its waters for swimming and fishing. 

The 81-mile-long river begins in the Western Corn Belt Plains ecoregion dominated by intensive agriculture, and flows into the more wooded, rolling karst terrain of the Driftless Region, where groundwater provides base flow for trout streams. Streams in the watershed are Class 1B (for domestic consumption following disinfection) and 2A (support of cold water sport or commercial fish and associated aquatic life, and support of aquatic recreation), according to state water quality standards. 

From 1994-2008, eleven stream reaches have been placed on the MPCA’s impaired water’s list for turbidity. This was after an examination of Long Term Resource Monitoring Program (LTRMP) data from the mouth of the Root River from 1993 - 2002 showed mean turbidity to be 52 nephelometric turbidity units, twice the state standard. Following storm events a pronounced sediment plume is evident downstream on the Mississippi River, which is listed as impaired by turbidity between the confluence with Coon Creek in Wisconsin downstream to Lock and Dam #8 at Genoa, Wisconsin.

A workplan has been developed and monitoring work is currently underway on this project. The MPCA is working with the Fillmore SWCD to complete this TMDL by 2011.

Map and location

The Root River is in southeastern Minnesota in the Lower Mississippi River Basin, and reaches into six different counties over its 81 miles.
The eleven impairments listed below are shown on the map: PDF icon map of the project area

  1. Root River Main Stem - Thompson Creek to Mississippi River
  2. Root River South Fork - T102 R9W S26, west line to Wisel Creek
  3. Money Creek - T105 R7W S21, north line to Root River
  4. Root River South Branch - Willow Creek to Camp Creek
  5. Root River South Branch - Canfield Creek to Willow Creek
  6. Root River South Branch - T102 R12W S21, north line to Canfield Creek
  7. Judicial Ditch #1 - Unnamed Creek to South Branch Root River
  8. Forestville Creek - Unnamed Creek to South Branch Root River
  9. Root River South Branch - Headwaters to T102 R12W S16, south line
  10. Root River North Branch - Unnamed Creek to Mill Creek
  11. Root River North Branch - Headwaters to Carey Creek

TMDL report and implementation plan

Other documents

For more information, please see the TMDL Factsheet and Publications webpage.


Information contact

Shaina Keseley, Project Manager
18 Wood Lake Dr SE
Rochester, MN 55904