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
Monitoring and assessment
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.
- Chippewa River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report
- Summary - Chippewa River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report (wq-ws3-07020005c)
- Chippewa River Watershed Biotic Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020005a)
- Chippewa River Watershed Hydrology Analysis (wq-ws1-10)
- Summary - Chippewa River Watershed Biotic Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020005b)
Strategy development for restoration and protection
Chippewa River Watershed TMDL (wq-iw7-42e) (EPA approved 6/7/2017)
Chippewa River Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy (wq-ws4-24a) (MPCA approved 3/16/2017)
- Summary - Chippewa River WRAPS report (wq-ws4-24b)
Simply put, the river is unhealthy. Sediment clouds the water, phosphorus causes algae, nitrogen poses risks to humans and fish, and bacteria make the water unsafe for swimming.