The Minnesota River - Headwaters watershed covers 487,015 acres in the Prairie Parkland ecoregion of southwestern Minnesota. Portions of Traverse, Big Stone, Swift, Lac qui Parle, Stevens, and Chippewa counties drain the watershed. It contains the communities of Browns Valley, Beardsley, Barry, Clinton, Ortonville, Odessa, Louisburg, Bellingham, Correll, Milan, and Nassau. A large portion of the watershed extends into eastern South Dakota.
Nearly 87% of the land in this watershed is privately owned. Land use in watershed is primarily agricultural, accounting for approximately 80% of the available acres. Two-year corn/soybean rotations comprise close to 90% of cropped lands within the watershed; small grains, hay, and grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program make up the majority of the balance.
What's being done
Monitoring and assessment
The Minnesota River-Headwaters watershed underwent intensive watershed monitoring in 2015-16. The stressor identification process has determined what is stressing biological communities in the impaired reaches. Additional watershed data is being collected such as drainage and shoreline.
- Minnesota River - Headwaters Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report (wq-ws3-07020001b)
- Minnesota River - Headwaters Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report Summary (wq-ws3-07020001c)
- Minnesota River - Headwaters Watershed Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020001a)
- Summary - Minnesota River Headwaters Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07020001b)
- Minnesota River Headwaters Watershed characterization report (DNR)
Strategies for restoration and protection
- Minnesota River Headwaters Watershed TMDL report (wq-iw7-57e) (EPA approval 4/18/2022)
- Minnesota River Headwaters Watershed TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw7-57g)
- Minnesota River Headwaters WRAPS report (wq-ws4-75a) (MPCA approval 3/9/2022)
- Summary of the Minnesota River Headwaters WRAPS report (wq-ws4-75b)
Additional TMDL projects
- Minnesota River bacteria TMDL and strategies report
- Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank TMDL for turbidity, bacteria, dissolved oxygen: Fact sheet (wq-iw7-24a)
- Lac qui Parle River - Yellow Bank Bacteria, Turbidity, and Low Dissolved Oxygen TMDL report (wq-iw7-24e) (EPA approval 5/8/2013)
- Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw7-24g)
- Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank TMDL implementation plan (wq-iw7-24c) (MPCA approval 6/20/2013)
- Lac qui Parle-Yellow Bank TMDL implementation plan: MPCA approval letter (wq-iw7-24i)
- Watershed project manager Katherine Pekarek-Scott, 507-476-4284