The Minnesota River, Mankato watershed (hereafter referred to as the Middle Minnesota River watershed) comprises 1347 mi2 in south-central Minnesota (Figure 1). In 2013, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) began evaluating the Middle Minnesota River watershed as a part of their Intensive Watershed Monitoring (IWM) schedule. The IWM process includes biological and water quality assessments, verification of old impairments, identification of new impairments, stressor identification (SID), and modeling to understand the watershed as a whole and what potential stressors cause impairments. Combining all of these data together, finding potential restoration and protection areas, and engaging citizens are part of the Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) process. The analysis of a healthy watershed evaluates a five component framework: hydrology, geomorphology, connectivity, water quality, and biology (Figure 2). The MPCA is in charge of collecting and analyzing water quality and biology data in the study watershed while the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR) provides watershed characterization, analyzes historical and current hydrological data, assesses the geomorphology and stability of rivers within the watershed, and assesses stream connectivity. The purpose of this report is to: characterize features within the Middle Minnesota River watershed; provide insight on hydrology, geomorphology, and connectivity; and discuss proper management practices that will restore watershed health.
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Minnesota Water Research Digital Library