2014 - Watershed Restoration and Project Strategies (WRAPS) Report

(Language taken directly from report summary publication)

Minnesota has adopted a “watershed approach” to address the state’s 81 “major” watersheds (denoted by 8-digit hydrologic unit code or HUC). This approach looks at the drainage area as a whole instead of focusing on lakes and stream sections one at a time, thus increasing effectiveness and efficiency. This watershed approach incorporates the following activities into a 10-year cycle: Water quality monitoring and assessment; Watershed analysis; Civic engagement; Planning; Implementation; and Measurement of results.

The North Fork Crow River watershed process began in 2007. It was the first time watershed assessments incorporated biology (fish and macroinvertebrates) along with the traditional chemistry and flow for a comprehensive watershed health assessment. The watershed approach adds a protection component for water resources meeting standards rather than focusing entirely on restoration of impaired waters.

As part of the watershed approach, waters not meeting state standards are still listed as impaired and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies are performed, as they have been in the past, but in addition the watershed approach process facilitates a more cost-effective and comprehensive characterization of multiple water bodies and overall watershed health. A key aspect of this effort is to develop and utilize watershed-scale models and other tools to help state agencies, local governments and other watershed stakeholders determine how to best proceed with restoring and protecting lakes and streams. This report summarizes past assessment, diagnostic and TMDL work and outlines ways to prioritize actions and strategies for continued implementation.


Of the 233 stream reaches assigned AUIDs (Aquatic Unit Identifier), 74 have been assessed for aquatic life or aquatic recreation.  Of the 74 that have been assessed, four fully support aquatic life and one fully supports aquatic recreation, while 20 are impaired for aquatic life and 16 are impaired for aquatic recreation. 

Of the 90 lakes assessed, 46% are impaired for aquatic recreation, 33% are fully supporting aquatic recreation, and 21% have insufficient data to make an assessment. TMDLs were completed for all nutrient impaired NFC lakes on the draft 2012 303(d) impaired waters list.

Water Quality Trends

Long-term water quality was recorded at a site on the Crow River near Dayton, Minnesota from 1953 to 2009 for Total Suspended Solids, BOD, Total Phosphorus, Nitrite/Nitrate, Unionized Ammonia, chloride, and pH (More information can be found in Table 3 of the report.). The MPCA used this dataset to analyze the long-term (1953 to 2009) and short-term (1995 to 2009) water quality trends in the NFC watershed (MPCA, 2011). Most parameters saw no significant change in long-term or short-term trends; however, total suspended solids decreased significantly from 1995 to 2009 and Nitrite/Nitrate and chloride increased significantly from 1953 to 2009 (MPCA, 2011).