South Fork Crow River

The South Fork Crow River watershed covers 818,428 acres. It is located in south-central Minnesota and encompasses parts of Kandiyohi, Renville, Meeker, McLeod, Sibley, Wright, Carver, and Hennepin counties. The South Fork Crow River joins with the North Fork Crow at Rockford, and then joins the Mississippi River near Dayton. The majority of the watershed is within the Western Cornbelt Plains ecoregion, with a small portion extending into the North Central Hardwood Forest ecoregion. Major cities include Willmar, Hutchinson, Delano and Glencoe.

The South Fork Crow River watershed includes many lakes, streams, and wetlands. Buffalo Creek, a major tributary, flows into the South Fork Crow River downstream of Lester Prairie. Land use in the South Fork Crow River watershed is largely agricultural, with row crops and pasture/grass lands accounting for approximately 83% of the overall watershed acres.

Several lakes and parts of the South Fork Crow River do not meet water quality standards for beneficial uses such as aquatic recreation, drinking, and swimming. The main lake pollutant is phosphorus, causing algae blooms in summer months, and portions of the South Fork Crow and its tributaries are listed for pollutants such as bacteria, turbidity and low dissolved oxygen.

    What's being done

    Monitoring and assessment

    The South Fork Crow Watershed project began in 2012 with the collection of biological, chemical and hydrological data throughout the watershed. Data collection continued through the 2013 monitoring season. Assessments and Stressor ID work is in progress.

    The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) collects flow and chemistry data at several monitoring stations in the South Fork Crow River watershed. Citizens interested in getting involved with monitoring can contact them.

    Strategy development for restoration and protection

    Implementation plans

    A civic engagement (CE) work plan was developed and used by the local CE team to publicize the watershed work and to get more people involved in water quality efforts. The project concluded mid-2016.