Des Moines River - Headwaters

Des Moines River at Windom, Minn.

The Des Moines River - Headwaters watershed is located in southwestern Minnesota. It covers approximately 1,334 square miles including parts of Lyon, Pipestone, Murray, Cottonwood, Nobles, Jackson, and Martin counties. It has five subwatersheds: Lake Shetek, Beaver Creek, Heron Lake, Lime Creek, and the West Fork Des Moines River Main Stem. The river joins the East Fork Des Moines River in Iowa, and eventually enters the Mississippi River at Keokuk, Iowa.

The river is used for recreational activities such as fishing, tubing, snowmobiling, and canoeing. It is also a valuable fisheries resource, with northern pike, buffalo, carp, walleye, channel catfish, crappie, and bullhead prevalent throughout the watershed. Land use is primarily agricultural.

What's being done

Monitoring and assessment

Water quality model

Strategy development


A TMDL was approved in Dec. 2008 that addressed bacteria, turbidity, pH, and excess nutrients. An implementation plan for this TMDL was approved in Sept. 2009. Since the approval, several grants have been received by local entities.

Implementation plan