The Mississippi River — Lake Pepin watershed consists of forests, bluff lands, and cultivated lands. The top of the watershed is rolling cropland interspersed by many small tributaries that drop steeply through forested valleys with scattered goat prairies atop cliffs. The tributaries join to form the named streams, which drain directly into the Mississippi River. The watershed is only about 50 miles southeast of downtown St. Paul. As a result, the watershed is subject to development pressures.
Agriculture is the primary land use in the watershed (approximately 70%). About 10% of the land is in grass. Corn and soybeans make up over half the tilled acreage of the area, with barley, oats and pasture land present. Forage production is strong because of the large number of dairy cows in the region. Of the grassland, 90% is in pasture and a small percentage (<10%) is in a management intensive rotational grazing system. Most of the remaining acreage is deciduous forest. Frontenac State Park, Lake Pepin, and the coldwater fisheries are significant natural resources that provide recreation and revenue in the region.
What's being done
The MPCA is working with local partners to understand the complexity of the karst geology, which underlies much of the Wells Creek watershed. In karst, surface water and groundwater interchange regularly. Water flowing on the surface may suddenly drop into a sinkhole and then re-emerge a few miles downstream as a spring out of the limestone to rejoin the surface water. Because groundwater is used as a primary drinking source in the area, it is especially important to exercise caution when applying anything to the surface.
Monitoring and assessment
Strategy development for restoration and protection
- Summary of Mississippi River-Lake Pepin Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies Report
- Mississippi River-Lake Pepin Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies Report (MPCA approval 3/27/2015)
- Mississippi River - Lake Pepin Tributaries Total Maximum Daily Loads
- Mississippi River-Lake Pepin Watershed TMDL: EPA Approval Letter (August 18, 2015)
- 2019 Modification to Mississippi River - Lake Pepin Tributaries TMDL (wq-iw9-15p)
- Lake Pepin Excess Nutrients: TMDL project
The original version of the Long and Farquar Lakes Nutrient TMDL Implementation Plan was approved by MPCA on June 30, 2010. The plan was updated October 2017.