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Minnesota River Watershed Model and TMDL

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The lower 22 miles of the Minnesota River are impaired by low dissolved oxygen. Oxygen depletion during low flow in the river arises from a variety of causes, including direct loading of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and high concentrations of algae driven by upstream nutrient loads. Direct discharges of BOD to the impaired segments were successfully mitigated in the 1980s, but the problems persisted, driven by high algal concentrations that often exceed 100 μg/L chlorophyll α. Addressing the algal component required the development of a comprehensive watershed model of the upstream watershed. This was accomplished using HSPF, with several innovative modifications to address important local features, such as the extensive use of tile drainage. The watershed model was calibrated, validated, and applied to investigate a variety of management scenarios, leading to the development of a nutrient TMDL and implementation strategy for the entire Minnesota River basin.

Model development was completed and subjected to a thorough peer review in 2002. Based on scenario applications with the model, a balanced allocation sufficient to achieve water quality standards was proposed by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2003. Submission of a nutrient TMDL for the Minnesota River basin was completed in 2004.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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