The Watershed Approach
Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS)
WRAPS Report Approved by MPCA and TMDL Report Approved by EPA
The Hawk Creek Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategies (WRAPS) report was approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in September 2017. The Hawk Creek Watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) report was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in November 2017. To view the approved WRAPS report, click here. To view the approved TMDL report, click here. Links to the reports are also available under the Reports tab.
The Hawk Creek Watershed is currently going through its second Watershed Approach and WRAPS cycle administered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Mandated by the Minnesota State Legislature (click here for a link to the statute), the Watershed Approach requires each of Minnesota's 81 major watersheds to go through a 10 year cycle to monitor and collect data on the health of the waterbodies on a watershed level, assess the data, use the data collected and assessed to develop strategies to restore waterbodies that are impaired and protect waterways that are healthy, and then carry out those strategies developed (the WRAPS). The 10 year cycle is continuous, so at the end of the first 10 year cycle, the cycle will begin again and the waterbodies will be monitored again to determine if water quality improved or if new impairments have developed and the strategies will be reassessed and redefined as needed. Although the WRAPS is mandated by the State and is the responsiblity of MPCA to carry out, HCWP has been involved to help bring a local voice to the process.
How is this different from what was being done?
This approach focuses on the watershed level. It looks at the watershed as a whole, rather than at specific waterbodies individually, as the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process does, which was the previous primary way of identifying waterbody impairments. Several TMDLs could be determined in one watershed for different pollutants. The Watershed Approach not only focuses on an entire watershed at one time, it also focuses on all possible pollutants, rather than one pollutant at a time, like the TMDL process does.
A critical component of the Watershed Approach and the development of the strategies to restore and protect the waterbodies in the Hawk Creek Watershed is the involvement of the citizens that live and work in the Hawk Creek Watershed. In order to establish the best possible strategies for the watershed (the most logical, feasible, economical, etc.), input from the community is greatly needed. Some of the ways citizens have been/can be involved is by attending the WRAPS workshops, public meetings (see the calendar for the next meeting), and our annual meeting usually held in February/March (see the Get Involved page for more information on our annual meeting), or letting us know about areas in the watershed that have issues (gullies/washouts, excessive algal blooms, streambanks/ditchbanks that are eroding, etc.), just to name a few.
Where are we at in the Watershed Approach cycle?
The Hawk Creek Watershed began its first 10 year cycle in 2010 and its second 10 year cycle in 2020. With the help of HCWP, MPCA performed intensive watershed monitoring at the beginning of both cycles. MPCA collected data on water quality, biological impairments, and stressor identification. MPCA collected data from water samples to determine water quality (dissolved oxygen, phosphorus, nitrogen, pH, etc.). MPCA collected data from fish, macroinvertebrate, and plant studies to assess biological impairments (click here to watch a video from MPCA on how they do their fish and macroinvertebrate sampling). From the biological impairments found, stressors were identified. Stressor identification answers the question: what factors are causing the biological impairments? Examples of possible stressor IDs include excessive sedimentation, algal blooms (often an indicator of elevated phosphorus levels), altered hydrology, and low dissolved oxygen levels. These biological impairments and stressor IDs were used to develop strategies. MPCA finished the biological impairment assessment report and the stressor identification report for the Hawk Creek Watershed in 2013. The draft WRAPS and TMDL reports were available for comment May 22, 2017 - June 21, 2017 and comments received were addressed by MPCA. The Hawk Creek Watershed WRAPS report was approved by MPCA in September 2017. The Hawk Creek Watershed TMDL report was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Strategies identified in the WRAPS report will be implemented to work towards the goals set in the WRAPS report. The second Watershed Approach cycle started in 2020 to determine if the status of the waterbodies in the Hawk Creek Watershed have improved, deteriorated, or remained the same since the first cycle in 2010.
One of the many tools utilized to identify potential strategies is zonation computer modeling. The computer modeling uses the answers from zonation surveys taken by those in the Hawk Creek Watershed to give weights to different conservation priorities named in the survey. The survey was available on our website for a year and a half, was emailed out to those on our email list, and was presented at several HCWP public meetings; the survey is now closed. The weighted answers are put into a computer model to produce a map of the watershed identifying restoration and protection areas. The map is aimed at optimizing environmental benefits while reducing interference between competing land uses. The map helps identify what and where practices would be most feasible and economical, which can help more effectively target efforts and more efficiently utilize limited resources. Click here to view the powerpoint created by Paul Radomski and Kristin Carlson with the MN DNR showing the current survey results.
Want more information on the Watershed Approach, WRAPS, and the Hawk Creek Watershed? Click here to go to the MPCA website for more info on the Watershed Approach process in general and here for more info on the Watershed Approach in the Hawk Creek Watershed on the MPCA website.