About the Watershed

The Vermillion River Watershed works to protect and restore surface water, groundwater quality and natural resources in the largest watershed in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The watershed drains 335 square miles in Dakota and Scott counties.

In 2002, the two counties signed a joint powers agreement to form the Vermillion River Watershed Joint Powers Organization (VRWJPO) and manage the watershed as required by Minnesota Statutes 103B and Minnesota Rules 8410.

The Vermillion River Headwaters emerge in New Market Township, Scott County. The Vermillion River main stem travels 35 miles from west to east, joined by four major tributaries (North Creek, Middle Creek, South Creek, and South Branch) and many unnamed minor tributaries. The watershed includes 49 miles of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources-designated trout streams. The river flows into the Mississippi River near the cities of Hastings and Red Wing.

The Vermillion River network runs through farmland, suburban developments, industrial zones, parks/open spaces, cities, and rural areas.

The 20 cities and townships in the Vermillion River Watershed include Apple Valley, Burnsville, Castle Rock Township, Coates, Douglas Township, Elko New Market, Empire Township, Eureka Township, Farmington, Hampton, Hampton Township, Hastings, Lakeville, Marshan Township, New Market Township, Nininger Township, Ravenna Township, Rosemount, Vermillion, and Vermillion Township.

We partner with these cities, townships, and other stakeholders to invest in capital improvement projects. We conduct extensive monitoring to analyze and track physical, chemical, and biological water quality parameters. We implement the Watershed Plan by adopting Standards and Rules and help local governments apply them. And, our outreach and communication program informs, educates, and engages people in active environmental stewardship.

The Vermillion River is a wonderful resource, providing many opportunities for people to get involved in its care, to learn about the environment and the ecosystems, and to enjoy the sport and relaxation that the river and watershed provide. Taking care of the resource today ensures that the river will continue to provide benefits, including clean water, habitat for fish and wildlife, natural drainage, and a healthy quality of life.