Snake River - Red River Basin

Watershed at a Glance

The Snake River begins its 50-mile course in Marshall County and drains an area of  611,800 acres. The river flows southwest from the headwaters, continuing westward and collecting the South Fork Snake River and passing through the towns of Warren and Alvarado. Downstream of Alvarado, the Snake turns northwest, then collects the Middle River upstream of its confluence with the Red in Fork Township.

Hydrologic Unit Code:09020309
Intensive monitoring start year:2013
Major lakesMajor rivers and streams
Snake, Middle, South Fork Snake


Above-normal amounts of precipitation in the late fall of the year or from May to October lead to high levels of soil moisture, periodically producing the snow-melt and summer floods that are known to affect the further reaches of the overall Red River Basin.

Agriculture accounts for approximately 84% of the overall watershed acres. Development pressure is moderate in most areas, with occasional farms, timberland, and shorefront being parceled out for recreation, lake, or country homes.

The Red River basin generally has a poorly defined floodplain and low gradient that combine with extensive drainage, widespread conversion of tallgrass prairie to farmland, and urban/suburban development to leave the basin subject to frequent floods that affect urban and rural infrastructure and agricultural production. The main resource concerns in the watershed are wind and water erosion, nutrient management, wetland management, surface water quality, flood damage reduction, and wildlife habitat. Many of the resource concerns relate directly to flooding and increased sediment and pollutant loadings to surface waters.

    What's being done

    Intensive watershed monitoring has been completed and a Monitoring and Assessment Report is available below. Stressor identification field work took place in 2016. A final report will be completed in 2017. The target date for the WRAPS Report and TMDL Report is late 2018.

    Monitoring and assessment reports and data

    What is a watershed?

    Illustration showing contour of land directing flow of water

    Learn the basics of a watershed.

    Denise Oakes, MPCA project manager