The Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed begins in Southeast Minnesota. This long, narrow watershed is located in the northeast corner of Iowa and encompasses 991,980 acres, touching portions of 11 Iowa counties.
The Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed (UWRW) begins in Southeast Minnesota. This long, narrow watershed is located in the northeast corner of Iowa and encompasses 991,980 acres, touching portions of 11 Iowa counties. The watershed lies in the Iowan Surface Region, characterized by broad, gently-rolling slopes and heavily wooded floodplains. The watershed is more than 85% row crop, pasture, or grass and is heavily used for recreation, including fishing, canoeing, hunting, and wildlife watching. According to a survey by ISU’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Development, visitors made approximately 226,801 trips to the Upper Wapsipinicon River in 2009 and spent $6M on outdoor recreation activities.
The Wapsipinicon River is a State of Iowa Protected Water Area (PWA) known for its public greenbelt corridor, which includes floodplain forests and wetlands, steep bluffs, and wildlife habitat, all with associated water-quality benefits. The Iowa DNR found the Wapsipinicon River to have the longest continuous stretch of natural and scenic river corridor in the Iowan Surface Region. Sixteen of the 27 communities in the watershed are located on, or adjacent to, a stream or river, providing recreational and economic opportunities that are impacted by flooding. There are currently 159 miles of impaired waters in the UWRW, inclduing 17 segments of impaired streams.
In September 2014, 13 communities, eight counties, and nine Soil and Water Conservation Districts united to form the Upper Wapsipinicon River Watershed Management Authority (UWRWMA). The UWRWMA is dedicated to reducing flooding, improving water quality, and reducing in-stream sedimentation.