Chippewa River

Watershed at a Glance

The Minnesota River: Evaluating its health [highlight]


The Chippewa River watershed covers 2,085 square miles and drains portions of eight counties in west central Minnesota. The northeast part of the watershed tends to be hillier, wooded, and more easily eroded, while the southwest portion tends to be flatter with more agricultural. The watershed begins in the southern part of Otter Tail County and ends 130 miles south in the flatter agricultural land at Montevideo.

Hydrologic Unit Code:07020005
Intensive monitoring start year:2009
Major lakesMajor rivers and streams
Oscar, Chippewa, Norway, Reno, Emily
Chippewa, Cottonwood Creek, Mud Creek, Shakopee Creek, Little Chippewa River


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

    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.

    Monitoring and assessment reports and data

    Strategy reports


    What is a watershed?

    Illustration showing contour of land directing flow of water

    Learn the basics of a watershed.

    Chippewa River Watershed Project

    320-269-2139, ext. 116