The Duschee Creek watershed is located in Fillmore County, in the karst region of southeastern Minnesota. A large fish hatchery, located near Lanesboro in the Duschee Creek watershed, provides nearly 40% of the stocking trout for recreational fishing in Minnesota. It is therefore an important resource for the state.
All water used to hatch and raise the trout is captured from two large springs. The water quality of those springs is often negatively impacted by large recharge events, as demonstrated by sediment-laden waters, and by items strained out with screens in the hatchery raceways, including small native river flora and fauna and agricultural debris including corncobs. Particular concern over the water quality was expressed that other types of pollutants, such as from an accidental spill or deliberate waste disposal could pose a catastrophic threat to the hatchery springs.
The research described here began in 1985. The first goal was to identify the sinkholes and/or stream sinks which could be positively traced to the hatchery springs. If such connections were determined to the Lanesboro Hatchery springs, those sites should be considered as point sources with direct hydrologic connections to the springs via the karst groundwater system. Surface water run-in from those particular sinkhole(s) and/or stream sink(s) would then be considered potential contributing source(s) of the water quality problems at the hatchery. The second goal was to determine travel times between the positive run-in sites and the springs. The final goal was to use the dye tracing results to begin to define the groundwater basin feeding the hatchery springs.
The Duschee Creek study area (shown on figure 1) encompasses the surface watershed of Duschee Creek and some areas beyond those boundaries to the nearest creeks on the west (Camp and Partridge Creeks) and on the east (Gribben Creek). The study design was to initially locate and trace from sinkholes and possible stream sinks within the Duschee Creek surface watershed. The research was later expanded to include a few dye traces from beyond the surface watershed boundary on the west.
Nine traces were conducted and are described in this report. They include two positive traces to the hatchery springs and one trace to a spring outside the western border of the surface watershed. Three traces tracked the dye from inputs on Duschee, Camp and Partridge Creeks to lower stations on those creeks, but did not show a connection to the hatchery springs. The positive traces have demonstrated characteristic flow times within the karst aquifer, and have begun to constrain the knowledge of the recharge area of the hatchery springs.
This report was updated in 2017 to make it more useful for field researchers, land use managers and the public. Primarily the changes include corrected and added identifications of the principal field sites, using Minnesota Karst Features Database (KFD) unique numbers. This update also adds locational coordinates of these field sites, based upon the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system (UTM). These additions and corrections are primarily found in tables, on the maps and in one figure caption. (Therefore, the KFD numbers in the tables should be viewed as definitive, in the cases where they conflict with numbering in the body of the text.) Two publications, referred to in the updated sections, have been added to the References section.
This work was supported by grants from the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.
Wheeler, Betty J.
Groundwater Tracing in the Duschee Creek Karst Basin in Southeast Minnesota.
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