The Hawk Creek Watershed drains approximately 623,105 acres (974 square miles) of land in Chippewa, Kandiyohi, and Renville Counties. It is unique among the other major watersheds of the Minnesota River in that it is comprised of a main tributary (Hawk Creek) and several other streams that flow directly into the Minnesota River. The Hawk Creek Watershed Project (HCWP) work area includes Hawk, Chetomba, Sacred Heart, Beaver, Middle, Timms, Smith, Brafee’s, and Palmer Creeks. Hawk Creek originates at Eagle Lake north of Willmar in the lakes region of Kandiyohi County and flows approximately 65 miles to its mouth at the Minnesota River, located eight miles southeast of Granite Falls.
HCWP has been in existence since 1997 with a purpose of “improving the
water quality/quantity issues in the watershed, while also promoting a
healthy agricultural, industrial, and recreational-based economy for the
region.” In 2013, a joint powers agreement between the three counties of the
watershed (Chippewa, Kandiyohi, and Renville) became the organizing
structure of th HCWP.
From 1999 to 2001, a diagnostic study was conducted in the Hawk
Creek Watershed to determine the pollution levels and to see if there
was a need for attention. The study showed excessive levels of
sediment, phosphorus, and nitrates. Bacteria is also a concern in some
reaches of the watershed. These pollutants come from a wide variety
of sources, including stormwater runoff, agricultural land runoff,
wastewater treatment plants, livestock manure, failing septic systems,
and industrial and processing plants. Another issue is water quantity.
Large quantities of water move through the watershed at high
velocities, disrupting the natural stream equilibrium and resulting in
substantial erosion of streambanks and increased loading of both
sediment and nutrients. For more information on the water quality in
the Hawk Creek Watershed, see our Water Quality page.
Several Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies have been completed in areas within the Hawk Creek Watershed, including the Lower Minnesota River, Hawk Creek, Beaver Creek, the Minnesota River along the Scenic Byway of the Minnesota River Valley, and Long and Ringo Lakes. The most significant sources of pollution identified in the TMDLs are excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), erosion, and sedimentation. For more information on TMDLs, see our Reports page.
The unique geographical work area of the Hawk Creek Watershed allows HCWP to address water quality issues in a number of Minnesota River tributaries and directly along 78 river miles of the Minnesota River itself. It also allows HCWP the ability of implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) in those locations where they will provide a significant water quality benefit, resulting in a high return for every BMP implementation dollar invested. The HCWP works closely with the SWCD/NRCS offices in the three counties to spread out resources to complete BMP projects. The goal is to provide financial incentives to landowners to correct and prevent pollution problems through cost-share programs to make BMP projects cost-effective and reasonable. BMP projects are cost-shared up to 75%. For more information on funds available for cost-share assistance or for a cost-share application, see our BMP page.
Everyone who lives, works, plays, or passes through the watershed has an impact. We are all a part of the problem and we are all a part of the solution! For more information on how to be involved in watershed activities, see our Get Involved page.
"Improving the water quality/quantity issues in the watershed, while also promoting
a healthy agricultural, industrial, and recreational-based economy for the region."