The purpose of the Cottonwood River Diagnostic Study was to identify sediment and nutrient contributions of various tributaries to the Cottonwood River, and to determine reductions necessary to meet both state and local goals. To help achieve this purpose, water quality monitoring efforts have been based on a three-tier system. Primary, secondary, and tertiary monitoring stations have been developed to assess areas of the watershed delivering the greatest amount of sediment and nutrients to the Cottonwood River. This information has been used to select priority management areas addressed in the implementation plan.
Stream monitoring methods closely followed those listed in the monitoring plan. The only significant change over the past three years was to reduce the number of flow and sampling stations from nine in 1997, to five in 1998, and to extend monitoring at these five stations into 1999.
By receiving the Phase II Clean Water Partnership grant in March, 2000, RCRCA will be able to continue to monitor the Cottonwood River Watershed. Three adjustments were made to the monitoring network used in 1999. First, sampling station PLC001, Cottonwood River at New Ulm, will be reestablished. Additional data collection at this station is needed to help understand sediment loading in the lower portion of the river. Another adjustment is the addition of a sampling station (PMC020) on the main stem near Lamberton. The location of this site coincides with the early flood warning monitoring station maintained by the Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Geological Survey. The third change is to discontinue the Highwater/Dutch Charley monitoring station due to scheduled bridge replacement at the established site. Sampling stations PLC010 (Cottonwood River near Leavenworth), PLS005 (Sleepy Eye Creek near Leavenworth), and TUP (Plum Creek) will be retained.
Cottonwood River Sampling Results:
Cottonwood River Sampling Stations 1997-present
PLC 001: Monitored in 1997, 2000-Present Primary site on Cottonwood River in New Ulm. Location: Lat. 40°17'29", Long. 94°26'24", in SW 1/4, NE 1/4 Section 33, T110N, R30W, Brown County, by the bridge on Cottonwood Street.
PLS 005: Monitored in 1997-Present Primary site on Sleepy Eye Creek near Cobden, MN. Location: Lat. 40°15'41", Long. 94°49'35", in Leavenworth Township, Section 9, T109N, R33W, Brown County, at bridge on County Road 8, 2 miles north of Leavenworth.
PLC 010: Monitored in 1997-Present Primary site on Cottonwood River near the community of Leavenworth. Location: Lat 44°13'39", Long. 94°48'22", in SW 1/4, SE 1/4 of Leavenworth Township, Section 21, Brown County T109N, R33W, at bridge on County Road 8, 0.2 miles north of Leavenworth.
PMC 020: Monitored in 2000-2012 Primary site on Cottonwood located in Lamberton Township, between sections 13 and 24, Redwood County, T109N, R37W at bridge on Hwy 14, 0.5 miles east of Lamberton.
TUP: Monitored in 1997-2012 Tertiary site near mouth of Plum Creek, North Hero Township, Section 3 and 4 line, 3.5 miles northeast of Walnut Grove in Redwood County, County Road 10.
Other monitoring sites: In response to flooding in the early 1990s, grant funds were obtained to expand the stream gaging network in the state. A number of organizations (Minnesota Division of Emergency Management, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, National Weather Service, and the United States Geological Service) are working together to make the stations operational. Gages were placed according to where more specific data were needed, and community support was evident.
In 1999, there were thirty-eight new stream gages put in place around the state. One is still in use in the Cottonwood River Watershed, on the Cottonwood River near Springfield. Another was placed in the Redwood River Watershed, outside of Marshall. Available for viewing on the web, a user can click to the station and view the current stage data for the previous seven days on a graph.