The Zumbro River watershed covers more than 900,000 acres and reaches parts of six counties in southeast Minnesota (Olmsted, Dodge, Steele, Rice, Goodhue, and Wabasha). Rochester (pop. 114,000), one of the fastest growing cities in Minnesota, is located in the southeast quadrant of the watershed. The watershed is known for its diversity of landscape, ranging from deep fertile glacial-tills, to sandy soils of the steep bluffs. Much of it is underlain by karst, with exposed bedrock and complex groundwater systems predominant in the eastern half of the region. Landforms common to this area are steep bluffs overlooking deep river valleys, sinkholes, caverns, and cold-water spring-fed streams.
To the west, the land is characterized by lake plains, outwash plains, end and ground moraines, and drumlin fields, all remnant landscapes of past glacial activities and the melt water drainage associated with it.
Land use is mostly agricultural, with row crops dominating, particularly in the western half of the watershed. The small stream tributaries in the far east (bottom of the watershed) are mostly cold, groundwater streams that support trout populations.
The MPCA conducted initial reviews of the Zumbro River Watershed from 2012 to 2018. A second cycle is planned for 2024.
What's being done
Monitoring and assessment
- Zumbro River Watershed: Stressor Identification Report (wq-ws5-07040004a)
- Zumbro River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report (wq-ws3-07040004b)
Water quality model supporting documents
- Zumbro River Watershed HSPF Model Extension Technical Memo, 2019 (wq-iw9-20q)
- Zumbro River Watershed HSPF Model Development Project Technical Memo (wq-iw9-20o)
- Zumbro River Watershed HSPF Model Development Project Report (wq-iw9-20n)
Strategy development for restoration and protection
- Zumbro River Watershed TMDL report (wq-iw7-45e) (EPA approval 2/22/2018)
- Zumbro River Watershed TMDL: EPA approval letter (wq-iw7-45g)
- Zumbro River Watershed WRAPS Report (wq-ws4-39a) (MPCA approval 11/8/2017)
- Summary of Zumbro River WRAPS report (wq-ws4-39b)