The Minnesota River, Shakopee watershed (hereafter referred to as the Lower Minnesota River watershed) comprises 1,835 square miles (mi2) in southern Minnesota. The Lower Minnesota River watershed only includes tributaries to the Minnesota River and is split up between Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR or DNR) administrative Regions 3 and 4 (Figure 1). Region 4 has the majority of the Lower Minnesota River watershed (1067.53 mi2) in Nicollet, Sibley, Renville, McLeod, Le Sueur, and Rice Counties while Region 3 has the remaining 767.47 mi2 in Carver, Scott, Dakota, and Hennepin Counties until the Minnesota River meets its confluence with the Mississippi River. The following report will only include the assessment of the Lower Minnesota River watershed within MNDNR administrative Region 4. In 2014, watershed health assessments began on the Lower Minnesota River watershed as part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) Intensive Watershed Monitoring (IWM) schedule. The analysis of a healthy watershed evaluates a five component framework: hydrology, geomorphology, connectivity, water quality, and biology (Figure 2). The MPCA responsible for collecting and analyzing water quality and biology data in the study watershed while the MNDNR provides supplemental 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 the Lower 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