Reports and Data


Search the Sand Hill River Watershed District



Regular Meetings

First Tuesday of every month - Board of Managers Meeting. Click here to view our minutes.

Second Tuesday of every month - Project Team Meeting. Click here to view the project team minutes.

Third Tuesday of every month - RRWMB Meeting.

Sandhill River Watershed-Wide TMDL Study
(i.e., Major Watershed Restoration/Protection Project)


The Sand Hill River Watershed (SHRW), located in northwest Minnesota, comprises an area of 495 square miles. The watershed lies primarily in Polk County with small areas in Norman and Mahnomen Counties. The SHRW is bordered on the north and east by the Red Lake Watershed and by the Wild Rice River Watershed on the south and east. The Red River is the western boundary. Municipalities within the SHRW include Nielsville, Climax, Beltrami, Fertile, Winger, and Fosston.  Water quality monitoring and assessment in the SHRW has shown that four stretches of the main channel of the Sand Hill River and four lakes (Ketchum, Kittleson, Uff, and unnamed Lakes) are currently not meeting state water quality standards.  As a result, these areas are listed as impaired for recreational use, aquatic life and/or aquatic use and require a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study to be done.  

The Sand Hill River Watershed-Wide TMDL, part of the Watershed Restoration And Protection Strategy (WRAPS) project, is being conducted to address those waters that are known to be impaired and also to assess the state of other waters in the watershed. The goal of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) watershed-wide design to addressing TMDLs is to develop a comprehensive plan for managing surface water quality across the entire watershed, rather than focusing on a single water body at a time.  To learn more about the MPCA’s watershed approach to TMDLs, click here.  The ultimate goal of the Sand Hill River WRAPS is to protect waters where conditions are excellent and restore waters that are impaired.  
The Sand Hill River Watershed District (SHRWD) is the local governmental unit leading the WRAPS effort under contract with the MPCA.  Houston Engineering, Inc. and RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc. are supporting the SHRWD in these efforts.
For more information on the Sand Hill River Watershed’s WRAPS and watershed-wide TMDL Projects, see the MPCA’s Sand Hill River Watershed information page, here
Project Phases / Products
Phase I

Phase I of the Sand Hill River WRAPS project summarized the current watershed conditions and was completed in March 2014.  The major goals of Phase I were to:

  • Develop a description of existing watershed conditions;
  • Identify areas where additional data is needed to support the WRAPS efforts;
  • Develop and implement a watershed-based water quality management plan;
  • Hold open house meetings to describe the project (presentation here);
  • Begin work on a methodology to identify sources of water quality pollution and stressors and set pollutant load allocations for the subwatersheds; and
  • Institute additional water quality monitoring in the watershed and assist with the MPCA’s Intensive Watershed Monitoring (IWM) Program.

Products from Phase I include:

  • The SHRWD Watershed Conditions Report, which can be accessed here.
  • The SHRWD Data Review Memo and Sampling Plan, available here.
  • The SHRWD Watershed Condition Report-Addendum, which can be accessed here.

Intensive Watershed Monitoring Results Highlighted in Conditions Reports
As part of the MPCA’s Watershed Approach, the agency has begun an Intensive Watershed Monitoring (IWM) program to assess the health of the 81 major watersheds across the state on a 10-year cycle, monitoring for both chemical and biological factors. Intensive watershed monitoring in the SHRW was conducted in 2011 and 2012.  A map of the sites included in the IWI is available here.  A summary of the data collected during the IWI can be found in the Watershed Conditions Report-Addendum and two products produced by the MPCA:

Sand Hill River Watershed Monitoring and Assessment Report:
Sand Hill River Watershed Biotic Stressor Identification:

Phase II
Phase II of the Sand Hill River WRAPS project is currently underway.  The major goals of Phase II are to:

  • Identify potential causes and sources of pollutants contributing to the impaired waters (complete);
  • Determine pollutant loading capacities and loading allocations for each impaired waters (complete);
  • Draft the watershed-wide TMDL document (complete);
  • Draft the WRAPS document (complete);
  • Submit the draft TMDL to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for Approval (pending).
  • Hold open house public meetings reviewing  the TMDL and WRAPS documents and soliciting public comments (pending);
  • Resubmitted the final TMDL document to USEPA for final approval (pending)

Products from Phase II include:

  • The SHRWD Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) (pending)
  • THE SHRWD Watershed Restoration and Protection Plan (pending)

Public Involvement
It’s important that those who live in the Sand Hill River Watershed are part of this project.  The project team includes a group of stakeholders that represents land owners and residents. Anyone who is interested can join this group at any time or attend any of the public meetings associated with the project. As the project reaches important milestones, such as completing the reports mentioned above, open houses are held to share results and discuss findings. Upon request, the project team will also share developments with local groups. 

After the initial review of the draft TMDL by the USEPA, the draft TMDL and WRAPS documents, a public meeting will be scheduled to present the draft TMDL and WRAPS documents to the public and solicit public comments. The documents will be posted for public comments for a month.

A public meeting is planned for the spring of 2015 to review the TMDL and WRAPS documents and solicit public comments. The MPCA will then post the   The intention of this meeting is to provide more details on the SHRWD MWRPP efforts and present results of the project to date.  Details on the upcoming MWRPP public stakeholder meeting are as follows:

Upcoming SHRW MWRPP Public Meeting Schedule
There are no upcoming meetings scheduled at this time.

Contact Us
Contact us by email to learn how you can get involved, request a presentation, ask a question or provide a comment. Or just give us a call at the Sandhill River Watershed District office, (218) 945-3204.